RSSAuthor Archive for Katrina Gravel

Katrina Gravel is an editor for the Education division of HCPro.

Salute to Nurses 2013

As Nurses Week 2013 approaches, the Boston Globe has released its annual Salute to Nurses, which commends the nursing profession and allows hundreds of people to write in and celebrate nurses who have made a difference to them. Nurses from across Massachusetts were nominated by their colleagues, employers, and patients; some received multiple nominations.

Many of the letters applaud the nominated nurses for their compassion, dedication, knowledge, and professionalism. It is clear in reading the letters that the care the nurses provided left a lasting impression on those recommending them for a “salute.” Each letter serves as a reminder that nurses are ordinary people doing extraordinary work everyday, and it’s encouraging to see that work recognized and applauded.

How will your facility be celebrating Nurses Week?

Tentative association between nurse understaffing and infant infection rates

The higher the levels of nurse understaffing, the greater the risk of infection among infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICU), according to a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers examined data from more than 11,000 infants who spent at least three days in NICUs, as well as data on NICU staffing levels of registered nurses.

According to the study, nurse understaffing occurred for 32% of all infants in NICUs, and for 85% of infants who required higher levels of care. In many instances, approximately one additional nurse per ten infants overall, and one additional nurse per three infants requiring higher levels of care, would allow hospitals to meet minimum national staffing guidelines. Although researchers were able to show an association between NICU nursing staffing and infant infection rates, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

How does your organization allocate nursing resources in the NICU?

Organizations aim to promote quality of care

Promoting quality of care is a major goal for organizations in 2013, according to a recent poll on; promoting quality of care received 43% of responses. In second place was improving nurse retention, with 29%, followed by encouraging staff-led initiatives (17%) and increasing staffing (11%). The poll is still active, so if you haven’t already, head over to to participate!

What goals has your organization set for 2013? What progress have you made on those goals since the start of the year? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Effective self-marketing is essential to a successful job search

Editor’s note: The following blog post was written and contributed by Michelle Mercurio, National Director of Career Services, Chamberlain College of Nursing.

You read the guides to a successful job search. You put in the time. You paid attention to detail, distributing your pristine resume at career fairs and professional networking events. You even practiced an elevator pitch to highlight your credentials and what you are looking for in your next opportunity.

So why haven’t you landed a new job?

If you were diligent about your search, chances are you were following a comprehensive checklist of tactics to find your next position. However, now may be the time to ask yourself if you are just running through the motions and “checking the box” on these steps, or if you are approaching your search like a true marketeer.

What’s a Marketeer?   

We know that marketers use strategies such as product placement, advertising, public relations, brand management and social media promotion to sell goods and services to consumers. Similarly, the word marketeer is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a specialist in promoting or selling a product or service.”

But there’s more to the role than the literal definition; the word marketeer conjures images of a champion marketer who stops at nothing to ensure that the product for sale is seen as a necessity by the consumer. A career marketeer applies those same strategies and promotion principles to ensure that he or she is seen as a necessity to an employer.

Be a Marketeer

Being a marketeer applies to everyone, not solely people in traditional business careers. People in all types of industries, including healthcare and education, should apply these principles to determine the next steps in a job search.

Conduct a self-analysis of all of your promotional channels – including you!

  • Audit your resume, cover letter, social networking profiles, and all personal promotion tools to ensure that they are concise and contain action words and achievements that convey the high energy necessary to drive engagement and interest from others. Clean up any imperfections, misspellings, or irrelevant information – they only serve as distractions and may detract from your credibility.
  • Analyze your job search process and identify opportunities to maximize your time. This is the strategy part of your job search. You want to reexamine those promotional activities that did not yield feedback from hiring managers. Move forward with the actions that are generating a positive response. If none of your efforts are generating a response, check in with your contacts and increase your networking.

Test the market and increase your networking.

  • Ask a few trusted contacts to spend 10 minutes reviewing your resume, cover letter, social media profiles, and in-person interview attire. Then ask them for their candid tips on how to improve your presence online and in-person.
  • Do more than just attend a career fair or networking event. Research industry topics and engage at least three new contacts in relevant discussion. Volunteer to chair an industry-related committee or lead a project. Follow up, and follow through. For example, for a nurse who is seeking a nurse manager position, this may mean volunteering to help with a community health expo in your spare time to show your business and teamwork abilities.
  • Help them help you. Ask your contacts if you can help them with a project – and then do so enthusiastically. You can strengthen your relationship with a new contact and also reinvigorate your job search by applying your skills.

Promote your brand in all interactions – and then align it with the opportunity pipeline.

  • In his 1997 article for Fast CompanyThe Brand Called You,” Tom Peters highlights the necessity of personal branding. The advice contained in this article is still very relevant for job hunters today; reference this article for ways to create and promote your brand.
  • Prepare to “wow” during your next elevator pitch and interview; instead of reciting your abilities and desires, align your communication with the available opportunity. In other words, know your audience and show how your personal brand is important to helping them achieve their goals.
  • Rally people around you by bringing energy to all of your interactions and staying positive. Infusing your interactions with excitement and camaraderie can leave a lasting impression and can increase your chances of being remembered when it comes time to hire.

Most importantly, after you do land your new career position, carry your marketeer perspective into the workplace to ensure a successful start and future growth opportunities!


AMA issues five patient safety guidelines

The American Medical Association issued a report that outlines the five key responsibilities that physicians should adopt when providing care for patients recently discharged from the hospital. The guidelines were developed to improve safety and reduce readmissions, according to the AMA. The five guidelines are as follows:

  1. Assessment of the patient’s health;
  2. Goal-setting to determine desired outcomes;
  3. Supporting self-management to ensure access to resources the patient may need;
  4. Medication management to oversee needed prescriptions;
  5. Care coordination to bring together all members of the healthcare team.

Read more about these guidelines and the AMA’s recommendations for each of them by reading the HealthLeaders Media article.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Patient Safety Monitor blog.

Hospitals still struggle to involved nurses in quality improvement activities

A study published recently in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality found that few nurses are involved in nurse-led quality improvement programs, and programs across the country do not appear to be growing at all, despite research that show the value of such programs in improving patient care.

The research team in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality study found few differences in the participation levels between nurses who were first licensed between 2004 and 2005 and nurses who were licensed between 2007 and 2008, particularly when it came to activities such as performance measurement, monitoring sustainability of improved practices, and efforts at performance improvement. The group anticipated greater variation, with the expectation that nurses from the second group would be more engaged than nurses from previous years.

While some programs did show promise, and while there has been an increase in the number of hospitals that participate in programs aimed to increase nurses’ engagement in safety and quality initiatives, the researchers concluded that nurses are an underutilized resource when it comes to improving patient outcomes. The authors of the study made several recommendations for hospital leadership, including having experienced colleagues guide new nurses in translating quality improvement knowledge into action, ensuring that nurses have sufficient time to participate in quality improvement activities, and providing timely feedback on nurses’ performances.

How do you engage your nurses in quality improvement? Share your tips and ideas in the comments section!


The flu season, and flu shot debate, persists

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that flu activity is decreasing in many parts of the country, 47 states are still reporting widespread geographic influenza activity. The southern and southeastern parts of the country, along with New England and the Midwest, are seeing a decline in the number of flu cases, while populations in the Southwest and Northwest have seen an increase in activity. According to the CDC, more than 130 million doses of the flu vaccine have been distributed as of January 18, and state that there are sufficient vaccinations for those who have not yet received the flu shot.

Along with the flu, the debate rages on as to whether healthcare workers should be required to receive the vaccination. Last month, eight nurses at an Indiana hospital were fired for refusing the mandatory flu shots, causing both positive and negative reactions from the public and the healthcare community.

In a poll this month at, we asked readers whether or not nurses at their organizations are required to receive a flu shot. The results were almost evenly matched, with 58% saying flu shots are mandatory and 42% responding that the flu vaccination is optional.

How do you feel about mandatory flu shots? Do you agree with firing nurses who refuse, or do you feel that it is a right to refuse the vaccine? Weigh in on the issue in our comments section!

Proposed 2014 National Patient Safety Goal on alarm management

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Patient Safety Monitor blog.

On January 15, the Joint Commission issued a proposed National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) on management of alarms. Alarms are intended to avert caregivers of potential patient problems, but if they are not properly managed, they can compromise patient safety, and there is a general agreement that this is an important safety issue, according to the release.

This proposed NPSG focuses on managing alarms that have the most direct relationship to patient safety. As alarm management solutions are identified, this proposed NPSG would be updated to reflect best practices. A survey in the release contains 15 questions and respondents will be able to offer their comments directly to the Joint Commission. The survey is open until February 26, 2013.

View the proposed NPSG requirements.

Take the online survey.

Submit comments via online form.

Review finds quality of NP care equal to physician care

Care provided by nurse practitioners (NP) is comparable to care provided by physicians in terms of patient satisfaction, prescribing accuracy, preventative education, and time spent with patients, according to a literature review conducted by the National Governors Association. The group examined 22 articles and studies regarding scope-of-practice for NPs.

The review found that NPs could successfully manage chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, and rated favorably in gaining patients’ compliance with recommendations and reductions in blood pressure and blood sugar. The report notes that patients often stated a preference for a care from a physician when it came to medical aspects, but had no preference with regards to nonmedical aspects of care.

NPs are currently allowed to practice and prescribe independently in 16 states and the District of Columbia, while NPs in the remaining 34 states must have some level of physician involvement in order to practice. The authors of the report note that expanding scope-of-practice laws for NPs could help states meet the increasing demands for primary care services. The debate over whether or not NPs should be allowed to practice independently has been ongoing for several years, with many physicians groups opposing NP independence. However, those states and healthcare systems that have expanded the role of NPs have reported positive results, according to the report.

High rate of “never events” in surgery points to need for quality improvement

At least 4,000 “never events” occur in the U.S. each year, according to findings published recently in the journal Surgery. A “never event” is an event that should never occur in surgery, such as leaving a foreign object inside a patient or performing the wrong surgery.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that U.S. surgeons perform the wrong procedures 20 times a week and perform wrong-site surgery 20 times a week; foreign objects are left inside the surgical patient’s body nearly 40 times per week. Approximately 80,000 “never events” occurred between 1990 and 2010, resulting in 9,744 paid malpractice judgments totaling $1.3 billion.

The study calls for improved procedures to avoid “never events,” such as using permanent ink to mark the surgical site, mandating time-outs in the operating room, and using electronic bar codes to track surgical instruments. Nurses often assist with or perform these procedures, and should be involved with improvement initiatives regarding never events, as should the entire surgical team.

What types of procedures does your organization have in place to reduce the number of “never events”?