July 28, 2010 | | Comments 1
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Four basic rules for engaging direct-care nurses in quality improvement

To engage direct-care nurses, nurse leaders need to follow four basic rules:

1. Be transparent with your staff at all times

2. Make accountability for improvement at the unit and staff nurse levels

3. Give your staff the tools to succeed

4. Continually reward and recognize improvement

Here is a more in-depth look at each of the four basic rules.

Be transparent: Information and knowledge are crucial to staff engagement in meeting the strategic goals of the healthcare institution. Staff members will be engaged if they know the facts about their organization. Nurse leaders should share the following:

• Operating and capital budgets, market share, and the role of labor cost in the budget

• Performance on key clinical business

• Strategic goals of their institution

• Market share

• Labor costs/margins

• Institutional strengths, new programs and plans

• Benchmarks with direct-care nurses

Establish accountability at the unit level: Leaders must establish a culture that reinforces the fact that quality improvement (QI) is not some other department’s responsibility, but rather is every nurse’s job. This makes every unit and every nurse on that unit accountable for improving patient outcomes. Strategies for doing so can include surveying unit nurses to see what improvement they as a group want to work on first.

Provide the tools needed for better engagement: Bedside staff nurses will not become engaged in QI unless nurse leaders educate them on basic pieces of QI. QI and quality management information must be basic, geared toward nursing, and reinforced with practical examples. It is also important to give bedside nurses time to work on QI projects.

Reward and recognize nurse involvement in QI: One of the easiest ways to engage staff members in QI is positive reinforcement through reward and recognition. Nurses can be recognized at the unit level by their colleagues, or at the divisional, departmental, or institutional level. An example would be setting aside a day to recognize nurses who have made a difference through QI projects and utilizing poster displays of the projects and posting them in the lobby for all to see.


How does your organization involve staff in quality improvement projects? What are other ways you can involve nurses in quality improvement?


Source: Excerpt Quality Improvement for Nurse Managers: Engage Staff and Improve Patient Outcomes, written by Cynthia Barnard, MBA, MSJS, CPHQ and Barbara J. Hannon, RN, MSN, CPHQ

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Rebecca Hendren About the Author: Rebecca Hendren is product manager for the nursing group at HCPro, where she oversees new product development focused on training and education resources for nurse managers and nursing professional development specialists. Contact Rebecca at rhendren@hcpro.com.

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  1. Excellent points.

    Does anyone do a short stay admission for your observation patients or do you complete your regular admission paperwork for all admissions? Looking for some answers.

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