RNWB Common Language

Let’s make sure we are all saying the same thing.


Burnout: The result of a poor work environment, including insufficient staffing, inadequate resources and support, poor working relationships with administration and physicians, and management that isn’t responsive or can’t address nurses’ needs or concerns (Schlak et al., 2022).

Help-Seeking: The process of searching for or requesting help.  For instance, engaging in mental health services, or wellness programs. 

Frontline Staff: Team members who work directly with patients/clients in the day-to-day performance of their jobs. 

Meaningful Recognition: An intentional and positive way to raise the value of the contributions of individuals in the environment. It requires being specific about what you are thanking someone for, being genuine, and is authentic.  It requires a keen perception of the action’s worth, recognizing not just what was done that deserves recognition but how it was done. Meaningful recognition must be relevant to a situation, match an individual’s contribution and be consistent with the person’s values (Sherwood et al., 2018).

Professional Governance: Refers to the accountability, obligations, relationships, and shared decision-making inherent in being a part of a profession such as nursing. Professional governance empowers nurses to have a voice in issues impacting their practice and workplace. 

Resilience: The ability of a person, community, or system to withstand, adapt, recover, rebound, or even grow from adversity, stress, or trauma (National Academy of Medicine, 2019). The resilience of individuals alone does not resolve problems of systemic burnout.

Relational Aggression: A indirect form of aggression or bullying caused through damaging relationships, leaving others out, or endangering social status.  Generally considered to be separate from physical violence.

System Approach to Burnout: A systems approach to addressing burnout focuses on the organization’s wellbeing rather than an individual. The approach focuses on structures, organizational policy, and culture as well as traditional healthcare culture.  Focusing on the systems rather than the individual takes blame and shame out of reducing burnout and creates a culture of wellness (National Academy of Medicine, 2019). 

Value: Unlike meaningful recognition which focuses on acknowledging specific contributions by individuals, valuing an employee is about appreciating the whole person and the inherent worth they bring to the patient/client, team, organization, or community.

Well-Being: The experience of positive perceptions and the presence of constructive conditions at work and beyond that enable workers to thrive and achieve their full potential. Markers of professional well-being are thought to be finding meaning, feeling engaged at work, having a high-quality working life, and finding professional fulfillment in one’s work. It’s important to note that the absence of burnout does not by itself result in a state of professional well-being (Larsen et al., 2021).

Workplace Violence: Any act or threat of physical violence including harassment, intimidation, and disruptive behavior, and includes both physical and verbal aggression within the workplace (OSHA).