April 28, 2010 | | Comments 0
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Celebrating Nurses’ Caring: Meaningful Activities for Nurses’ Week

I would like to introduce Wendy Leebov, Ed.D., who is a new monthly contributor to the blog! She will be posting a variety of articles to help educate and empower staff. She comes to the Leaders’ Lounge with more than 30 years experience in communication, training design, and delivery. Welcome, Wendy, to the Leaders’ Lounge!

Every year in May, as Nurses Week approaches, I stop and reflect about the gifts of caring that nurses deliver to patients and families day in and day out. These gifts are remarkable.

While nurses’ acts of caring deserve recognition year-round, there are so many ways to use Nurses Week to express our appreciation and support. Here are favorites from my experience as chief human resources officer at the Albert Einstein Healthcare Network where I worked before leaving to become a full-time consultant (fanatic) on the patient experience.

Contribution Stories:  We conducted story-writing groups in which nurses spent 20 minutes writing in detail about one experience when they felt they made a powerful difference to a patient or family member. They shared their stories and then we published magazines of nurses’ stories to circulate among all staff to celebrate and highlight heartwarming acts of caring. To see one example of a nurse’s story, click here.

The Barriers Survey and Action Plan:  We asked nurses to identify the barriers to taking great care of patients. We considered the results very seriously and created an action plan.  One of the resulting improvements stemmed from night nurses’  frustrations related to the difficulty of getting timely deliveries and specific support (like help lifting patients) during nights.  As a result, we started a “Just-in-Time Service” staffed by two people who did pick-ups and deliveries and provided miscellaneous supports for patient care during nights and weekends when staffing is so lean.

Each One, Ask One: We invited employees from departments who don’t provide direct patient care to each interview a nurse with these two questions:

  • Tell me in detail about a specific time when you experienced deep appreciation for your work.
  • What about your profession draws you in and keeps you engaged?

Physician Appreciation of Nurses:  I interviewed several physicians to find out what they appreciate about nurses with whom they work.  We then made a giant poster with their quotations and hung that poster all over the hospital.  We also gave every nurse a small color copy.

Nurses Give Recognition: We distributed recognition cards to nurses to use to express their appreciation to others on the staff who support them — people from Environmental Services, Radiology, Labs, Food Services, and many more.  (See sample card.)

In conclusion: It’s easy to focus on frustrations with nurses (and others), because frustrations with coworkers weigh heavily on us when we work in a stressful, demanding job.   But focusing on those frustrations gets toxins flowing through our organizations (and our bodies).  Nurses Week reminds me of the health-giving properties (to our organizations and our bodies) of savoring the positives and celebrating nurses’ caring.

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Wendy Leebov About the Author: Wendy Leebov is a passionate advocate for creating healing environments for patients, families and the entire healthcare team. A mission-driven expert, Leebov provides outcomes-based consulting services, culture change strategies with healthcare organizations, training and tools for enhancing the patient and employee experience. With more than 30 years of experience and skills in communication, training design and delivery, she is known for making hard skills accessible and motivating people to stretch and apply skills which set them apart. Author of 12 books for healthcare, Wendy has produced two groundbreaking video-based skill building systems that educate and empower all staff to deliver the exceptional patient experience consistently by excelling at caring communication. Wendy writes a free monthly e-newsletter - HeartBeat on the Quality Patient Experience - packed with concrete tips and tools for managers who champion the great patient and employee experience. Visit Wendy’s website for more great tips and tools.

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