Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




moral distress, nursing shortage crisis, intensive care nurses, burnout, COVID-19


There is a growing critical care nurse staffing shortage with increases in nurse vacancy rates. Moral distress has been exacerbated by the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic and, in particular, impacting critical care nurses. COVID-19 is a significant contributor to staffing shortages and continued nursing crisis. Thus, the impetus for the Problem of Practice (PoP): the lack of support to address the psychological, emotional, and spiritual distress suffered by critical care registered nurses in a tertiary care hospital in Central Ontario. To comprehend the realities of working in the intensive care units, leaders must first understand nurses’ lived experiences, narratives, and what it means to work on the frontline in an intensive care unit. The Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) is underpinned by interpretive phenomenology and authentic and transformational leadership approaches. Lewin’s three-stage force field model of change theory is utilized for leading change and Burke and Litwin’s performance change model for the organizational analysis. The overall goal of the OIP is to implement a change plan that brings leaders and critical care registered nurses together to co-create support program(s) to address critical care nurses’ psychological, emotional, and spiritual distress, decrease nurse attrition, and enhance critical care nurses’ well-being.