RSSArchive for August, 2009

Pandemic preparation: How to prepare for swine flu

As the fall and winter months approach, hospitals are gearing up for more than the average flu season. Officials are predicting that the outbreak of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, will hit the country much harder than in the spring and that as many as half the population may become infected.

The Washington Post reports the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology has warned that as many as 1.8 million people could be hospitalized by the H1N1 virus, causing as many as 90,000 deaths. The 86-page report offers guidance on the nation’s response to the first influenza pandemic in 41 years. [more]

New nursing programs geared towards preparing and retaining nurses

Studies show that up to 60% of new nurse graduates leave their first job within their first year, and many hospitals are focusing on ways to help new nurses through the difficult transition from nursing school to novice nurse to competent, confident practitioner.

Rapid City (SD) Regional Hospital is one such facility looking to help its new grads succeed and remain with the organization. The hospital hires an average of 100 nurse graduates every year, but within two years, 25% of those nurses are no longer with the facility. With the help of a recent grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Regional Hospital has launched a two-part program to provide guidance to the new nurses. [more]

Re-Recruiting for Retention!

A national survey done by Kepner-Tregow (a Princeton-based management consulting firm) found only 40% of workers feel adequately recognized at work, yet it’s been estimated that U. S. companies spend ~ $18 billion annually for recognition incentives (Ventrice, 2003). Apparently employees desire something different from what their organization offers.

An excellent form of recognition is “re-recruitment”, an easy activity for any leader to accomplish. Here are some tips on how to accomplish it:

1. Think about your best staff member. Now imagine he or she is coming to see you today. What would you do or say if he said he was leaving? Do those things anyway.

2. When you’re in the unit chatting with your staff, periodically ask questions such as, “If you could make any changes about your job, what would they be?”, or “What things about your  job do you hope never change?” Another excellent question to ask is, “What makes for a great day?”

3. Use 30 / 60 / 90 day retention interviews. These face-to-face meetings help solidify retention of your newest staff members. Ask if the job is what they expected from the interview. Also ask if they’ve noted anything that could be done better – new eyes always have keen perspective, plus you may gain an improved way to accomplish something you’ve been struggling with! Finally, ask what has been the greatest and most frustrating thing they’ve discovered. Use their positive comments to give KUDOs to staff who are doing a great job and their frustrating situations to make changes.

Remember, in the current competitive employment environment, other employers are interested in recruiting your best people! The best retention strategy is to re-recruit them yourself and beat the competition to the punch!

Ventrice, C. (2003) Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works. Berrett-Koehler: San Francisco

Strategize Now To Minimize Economic Effects

Greg Smith is a motivational and leadership speaker, and a management consultant. Greg is CEO of Chart Your Course International in Atlanta. He has published several books and articles about employee engagement and retention.

I was reading a blog by Greg regarding the current state of the economy and how surprising it is that some leaders simply hope things will turn around instead of strategizing ways to minimize or eliminate the effect the economy can have on employee retention. Here are 6 things to consider:

1. Assess your talent.
What can be done to improve staff’s skills your department needs in the current economy?

2. Work on employee engagement.
Do you have a way to capture your staff’s ideas and suggestions?

3. Build closer relationships with customers.
Do you know what your patients & families really want from your department?

4. Evaluate your department’s culture.
Is it focused on agility & flexibility? Is the vision statement relevant to your staff?

5. Build trust among staff.
What can you do to improve communication? Does your staff trust upper management?

6. Retain your superstars.
Do you have established retention plans for the people you know you need to keep?

Based on Have You Lost Your Way? Six things You Need To Do Now. Smith, G. (2009)

By the way, you can sign up for Greg’s FREE Navigator newsletter (full of timely tips) here:
Just scroll to the bottom of the page.

‘Nurse of the Year’ winner arrested for being fake nurse

In 2008, guests attended a fancy dinner honoring the Connecticut Nursing Association’s Nurse of the Year. The only problem was, the woman wasn’t a nurse at all.

This week, a bizarre news story broke after Betty Lichtenstein was charged with pretending to be a nurse. Following a patient complaint, investigators discovered Lichtenstein, who worked as a nurse in a Connecticut doctor’s office, had no nursing license. Lichtenstein is being charged with reckless endangerment and criminal impersonation. She had been dispensing medications and giving medical advice at the neurologist’s office where she worked.

According to the arrest warrant, she reportedly paid for the 2008 event out of her own money and prosecutor’s say the organization does not even exist. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison.

What is your reaction to this story?


Taking the pulse of nurse-physician relationships

Taking the pulse of physician relationships is a good starting point for change. Doing so allows you to dissect the current relationships in your facility and make sense of the problems you face. Five categories can be broken down to define the types of relationships:

  1. Collegial: Relationships between the nurses and physicians have mutual respect and power. Because of this, both parties feel empowered. When both nurses and physicians have power, they are better able to recognize the value in each other’s education and experience. With this environment, physicians and nurses consult each other frequently and seek each other’s advice, to the full benefit of patients.
  2. Collaborative: Physicians and nurses participate together in the plan of care to produce positive outcomes for patients. The nurses and physicians have a mutual respect for each other. The key difference is that the power is not equal between nurses and physicians. The power difference does not interfere with the working relationship, and both parties are able to work together for the benefit of the patient.
  3. Teacher-student: The physician or the nurse takes on the role of mentor. Typically, the physician educates the nurse. Often, however, nurses are in a position to teach physicians what they have learned from their experiences.
  4. Neutral: These kinds of relationships evoke only indifference. Such relationships originally cropped up in healthcare when, in an effort to increase productivity, hospitals decided to move patient charts from the main nursing station to outside patients’ rooms. Now, physicians can come to the floor, write orders, put up the yellow flag on the chart rack, and never speak to anyone.
  5. Negative: Nurses report that negative patient outcomes occur more frequently when nurses interact with difficult physicians. After physicians establish a negative reputation for themselves, nurses will go out of their way to avoid them. The critical common thread in every disturbing physician-nurse interaction is that the patient loses.

How does your facility deal with difficult relationships between nurses and physicians?

Source: Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, RC, MN. Speak Your Truth: Proven Strategies for Effective Nurse-Physician Communication

Managers’ role in promoting a professional image

We all try to shape up our physical appearance at one time or another. Or we may make an internal change in our personal attitude that eventually reflects on the outside with a positive change in body language or tone of voice.

Our actions—or lack of action—appearance, voice inflection, and ability to convey empathy and concern all play a role in our image. There are four categories we can focus on when considering as image makeover:

  1. Professional work environment and interactions
  2. Appearance
  3. Collegiality/team member role
  4. Professional accountabilities

Nurses in various areas of the profession—nursing departments, nursing individuals at all levels and practice, nurse faculty, and nursing students—can select a category and develop a program that reshapes their image at the individual or group level.

For instance, when making changes to professional work environment and interactions, remember:

  • Do not carry on a discussion in the nurses’ station that you would not want others to hear
  • Respect the equipment you work with and handle it as if you paid for it out of your own paycheck
  • Support other nurses who are being approached unprofessionally
  • Do not display any behaviors or gestures in view of coworkers, patients, or families that you would not want seen or heard

Managers can set expectations for professional appearance and should never forget to set a good example. Share with your staff these points:

  • Dress for the respect you feel you deserve
  • Follow your organizational dress code policies and procedures
  • Recognize that your appearance affects perceptions of your competency
  • Differentiate yourself in dress from the unlicensed members of your healthcare team

The stresses of the profession are minimized when nurses are able to care for patients in a collegial, supportive environment, where everyone is striving to provide the highest-quality patient care and deliver the best possible patient outcomes. Set expectations that your staff members will:

  • Proactively offer to assist other members of the team to demonstrate team commitment
  • Actively become involved in the orientation process of all new staff
  • Not allow someone else’s unacceptable behavior to become their own behavior
  • Be open to constructive criticism and feedback

Finally, managers should encourage their staff to hold themselves accountable to high standards as well. Remember to:

  • Acknowledge that it is your name on the license, not your manager’s or your organization’s
  • Maintain a current knowledge of your nurse practice act
  • Belong to and support at least one professional nursing organization
  • Document appropriately and according to nursing standards of practice

Source: Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN. The Image of Nursing: Perspectives on Shaping, Empowering, and Elevating the Nursing Profession.

Americans spend millions on alternative therapies

A recent study of 23,000 Americans by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health found that Americans are spending $34 million a year in alternative therapies that are not covered by insurance, which is a 25% increase within the past decade. Alternative therapies can range from taking herbs to yoga classes, and are popular for both adults and children.

The study found that $22 million of the $34 million is spent on “self care,” where patients use an alternative therapy, such as taking fish oil supplements or homeopathic medications, without their health practitioner’s advice. As more and more Americans seek alternative therapies, it is important for nurses to be aware of how these drugs or methods may effect patients’ prescriptions or treatment. [more]