27 Fall/Winter 2021-22 “To come into a hospital staffed with strangers, it’s absolutely not who we are—at least in rural America.” And while many outside of health care focus on higher pay to attract nurses, Williams said it’s often not about money when it comes to creating a happy and high functioning workplace. “We can offer more benefits, we can offer more money,” said Williams. “But we’ve really taken the approach, we want to hear from our employees about what’s most important. And it’s funny when you sit down with them, it’s not money, it’s I want to get breaks consistently, I want to get my lunch, I want to have my manager talk to me and not at me. They say it’s the small things that we care about most.” At Good Shepherd, leaders hear the same thing: more than anything else, employees want to feel valued. They’ve worked hard to make sure staff know they are appreciated because it’s the right thing to do and because the pandemic has led to a lot of reflection. “That appreciation is so important,” said Reding. “People have really reassessed what they want out of their work life, and what they are willing to accept in a work environment. It’s causing us to reevaluate, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I think it’s been a long time coming,” said Camden. Hospital leaders hope the recent capacity and staffing crisis has raised awareness on workforce issues that existed long before COVID hit. “I just want to express gratitude to our frontline workers. This has been the toughest time in all of our lives. I always want to acknowledge their work and their dedication to the profession,” said Dr. Kelly. That’s a feeling all of these women share.