The Importance of a Healthy Work Environment for NPs and PAs

We share the signs of a positive and supportive workplace. Learn to recognize a healthy work environment for NPs and PAs when you see one.

Healthcare workers meditating
A healthy workplace has more to do with leadership than meditation.

In our ever-changing, fast paced healthcare world, it becomes increasingly important for Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) to look for positive and supportive work environments. This matters when you interview for a new position. But, it also means recognizing your responsibility to help maintain a healthy work environment. NPs and PAs have many leadership roles, including practitioner, consultant, mentor, educator, advocate, and researcher.

If you’re searching for a new career opportunity, many factors can impact your job satisfaction. You’ll naturally consider location, the type of practice, management styles, orientation, compensation, and opportunities for advancement. These are all clues to the type of work environment that exists in the organization, so pay close attention.

Keys to a Healthy Work Environment for NPs and PAs

Still, you may ask yourself, “What does ‘healthy work environment’ mean?” Is it the scope or role of a particular position, the specific day-to-day responsibilities of the job, or something more broad?”

Dr. Maria R. Shirey, noted expert and author on nursing management, defines a healthy work environment as follows:

Healthy work environments “are characterized by a high level of trust between management and employees; by employees who treat each other in a respectful manner; by an organizational culture that supports skilled communication and collaboration; and by a climate in which employees feel emotionally and physically safe.”1

What does this look like in practice? The components of a healthy work environment often include the following.2

  • Skilled communication – open, frequent, transparent, effective, skilled, trustful
  • True collaboration – respectful, team oriented, supported, committed to a common goal
  • Effective decision making – patient advocate with opportunities for clinical, operational, and policy decisions
  • Appropriate staffing – matching nursing competencies that meet patient needs
  • Meaningful recognition – genuine, effective, promotes true sense of value and belonging in the organization
  • Authentic leadership – well-prepared, skilled, experienced, effective, meaningful

While all are equally important, authentic leadership has been described as the “glue” that holds the entire working environment together. An authentic leader can be recognized by his or her “genuineness, trustworthiness, reliability, compassion, and believability.”3

It can be difficult to fully assess a potential employer in a job interview. But, knowing what to look for can help inform your overall impressions as to whether it is the right fit for you. It can also help you determine the type of leader you aspire to become.

Find the Right Work Environment for You

Given all the changes facing the healthcare industry, what will the healthy work environment of the future look like? And how will NPs and PAs help shape it?

A commitment to healthy work environments for NPs and PAs will be critical as organizations strive to retain providers and improve patient care during the growing nurse shortage. Technology will continue to change the way patients are cared for, so ongoing education and training will be essential for all healthcare providers to remain effective.

So, as you make your next career move, pay attention to prospective employers. Look for opportunities to be challenged, grow, and become future leaders in healthcare. These things will abound in organizations that value their employees and provide healthy work environments for them.

The team at Melnic is here to support you and help you find the right work environment to advance your career.  If you are looking for a new advanced practice position, please reach out to us!


  1. Kupperschmidt, B., Kientz, E., Ward, J., Reinholz, B.A Healthy Work Environment: It Begins With You. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 15, No. 1, Manuscript 3.
    Accessed July 25, 2016.
  2. American Association of Critical Care Nurses. AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments: A Journey to Excellence, 2nd Edition. Published 2016. Accessed July 25, 2016.
  3. Shirey, M. Authentic Leaders Creating Healthy Work Environments for Nursing Practice. Am J Crit Care May 2006 vol. 15 no. 3 256-267. Accessed July 25, 2016.