Last year was a tumultuous one for Allina Health in Minneapolis and its nursing staff. After a week-long walkout in June, Allina nurses went on strike in the fall as part of ongoing contract negotiations centered around the elimination of union-backed health plans. After a six-week strike, both sides finally reached an agreement that ended the strike and sent the nurses back to work.
As part of its 2016 earnings report, Allina Health reported that while revenue increased over the year, operating income dropped, thanks in part to expenses related to the nursing strike. Allina recorded a $30 million operating loss, a significant $179-million-dollar swing from the $149 million operating gain Allina posted in 2015. As part of its report, Allina cites a $149.3 million of strike expenses, which included hiring 1,400 replacement nurses to cover for the striking staff.
For more information on nursing strikes, check out the Strategies for Nurse Managers Reading Room.
The responsibility of educating patients and their families often falls to nurses, from explaining procedures to providing discharge instructions. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the job, and your staff may have limited time due to staffing issues or an emergency situation. Here are some tips to help educate patients quickly and effectively:
Handouts are your friend: Patients are often given a lot of information all at once, and it can be hard for them to remember every detail, especially in a stressful hospital setting. Having notes and props ready for them can save time and prevent miscommunication, especially when discharging patients. Have your nurses write up the specific instructions and go over them with the patient; use highlighters to mark the most important information. There are a lot of resources and tools available (we have some here) about common procedures and practices that you can use as handouts for patients as well.
Stay concise but informative: Patients are probably only going to remember one or two learning points, so try to emphasize the most important takeaways and leave the rest for your handouts.
Test understanding: It’s important not to assume that your patient is well-informed about their own condition. Even if you think something is obvious, say it anyway! Once you go over the key points, make the patient repeat them back to you; it’s one thing to listen to an explanation, but quite another to have to explain it yourself.
Encourage questions: Even if a patient seems to understand, it’s important to leave time for questions. Ask if they have any concerns about medications or follow-up care; this will help prevent confusion going forward and negative health outcomes.
You can go here for more advice about patient education.