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Blogging can be an innovative tool for nursing educational sharing

With the time-crunch worse than ever, it can be difficult to find the time to keep up with the latest in your facility, let alone the wider world of nursing. Early research conducted by Critical Care Nurse (CCN) suggests that blogs can be an effective means of communicating the latest hospital policies and best practices.

The cardiac intensive care unit at Brigham and Women’s hospital found that while many of their nurses attended professional educational opportunities, the staff had difficulty sharing information with the entire nurse staff. The staff simply did not have the time for peer-to-peer sharing of educational information. To facilitate educational sharing, the nursing practice council at the facility set up a simple private blog where staff could share what they’ve learned from various educational opportunities, such as professional conferences and panels.

After fifteen months, the hospital conducted a survey to measure the effectiveness of this approach. They found that 86% of their nurses thought the blog was an effective way to share professional education, 81% felt the blog kept them up-to-date on evidence-based practices, and 59% thought the blog led to changes in their practices. While the results are anecdotal and early, the authors of the study suggest that more rigorous research is required.

Does your facility use blogging tools or social media for education and professional development?

Top 10 most read blogs posts from 2011

Here’s a rundown of the most-read posts from 2011:

1. Analyzing nurse staffing: Understanding FTEs

Staffing: what a problem! Developing and monitoring the staffing budget is one of the most, if not the most, difficult responsibilities of the nurse leader. Labor consumes the majority of the financial resources of the organization. Therefore, everyone must act responsibly in order to ensure the financial health of the organization. But how do you know how many staff you need on your position control in order to meet the needs of the department (not too many, and not too few)? That is a $100,000 question!

2. Helping new graduate nurses over transition shock: Part 1: The “doing” stage

It’s the time of year when hospitals are welcoming new graduate nurses to their units and nurse managers are preparing to help these new nurses make the difficult transition from nursing school to nursing practice.

Kendra Varner, MSN, RN, nurse residency program coordinator for the Kettering Health Network in Dayton, OH, wrote in the book Nurse Residency Program Builder, that new nurses go through many experiences as they transition to become competent nurses. In the first part of a three part series, Varner describes the first stage.

3. Best practices for filling out incident reports

You and your staff may think that incident reports are more trouble than they are worth-but think again.

We work in high-stress, fast-paced environments. It is your responsibility as a member of the nursing management team to understand not only the importance of the incident report, but also how to ensure that your staff completes them and how to investigate incidents to avoid any further occurrences. Your investigation will also provide possible defense if during your investigation you identify a system failure and take the necessary corrective action(s). [more]

Effective precepting: Giving feedback to orientees

Whenever I conduct a preceptor workshop, I always ask the question, “What is the most difficult aspect of precepting?” I usually get a range of answers, but at least one nurse will always say, “Providing feedback to orientees.” Providing feedback can be difficult, especially if it is your first time doing it.

In a preceptor-orientee relationship, the best type of feedback to provide is constructive feedback. Constructive feedback focuses on improving orientees’ performance by reinforcing desired behavior, and correcting poor performance. It allows orientees to maintain their motivation for learning, and enables them to experience at least partial success.

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What is a preceptor?

Ask a new nurse what preceptors are and they may reply “teachers.” At first glance, I agreed with the definition. Preceptors spend a large amount of their time teaching orientees the clinical skills related to their specific role. But as I reflected upon my experience as a preceptor, I realized that preceptors are much more than just teachers or tutors. Preceptors are also:

  • Leaders. A leader is someone who inspires and influences others. Preceptors must be leaders in order to inspire and influence their orientees to learn their new role. This can sometimes be a difficult challenge as conflicts arise. However, a true leader can put differences aside and continue on the orientation journey.

Online breathing technique program helps reduce stress in nurses and patients

Nurses are well aware of the stress that comes with the job. Taking care of numerous patients at varying levels of sickness, and dealing with many competing priorities, is enough to make anyone stressed out. Now, with the help of the BREATHE technique, nurses and patients can lower their blood pressure, heart rate, and experience a decrease in stress.

The BREATHE technique was developed by John M. Kennedy, medical director of preventative cardiology at Marina del Rey Hospital in California. It’s a 15-minute computer program that helps ease the stress of nurses and patients by combining deep breathing with guided imagery.

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RWJF senior advisor for nursing honors 100th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s death

Susan Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior advisor for nursing at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is spending her summer vacation doing something extraordinary. She is not spending her days soaking up the sun, or taking a cruise to Alaska. Instead she is traveling in Europe, learning about the life and work of Florence Nightingale.

Throughout Hassmiller’s journey across Europe, she is blogging about her experience. Her trips marks the 100th anniversary of Nightingale’s death. [more]

Eight Ways to Drive the Complaining Patient and Family Member Nuts

One of my favorite activities is facilitating patient and family focus groups. What I love about focus groups is that I always learn something!

I’ve consistently found that patients and families are very sensitive to how they are treated when they complain and very articulate about the experience. If there’s one thing I’ve learned well it is “What drives the complaining patient and family member nuts?”

Listed here are the highlights. Consider sharing this list with staff throughout your organization so that people avoid some of the pitfalls of dealing with complaints.

1. It drives patients and families nuts when we get defensive. If we take complaints personally and say things like “I only work here” or “It’s not my fault”, we make matters worse. We need to keep calm, stay objective, and avoid judging, acting superior or making excuses.

2. It drives customers nuts when we coldly cite “policy” as our reason why we can’t do what the customer wants. Statements like “I’m sorry, but that’s the way we do things here” or “It’s our policy” infuriate patients and families, because it seems we care more about protecting ourselves than serving their needs. We need to somehow give them at least one option in line with policy or find ways to bend rules when we know we’re acting in the patient’s and organization’s best interest. And when the rule can’t be bent, we can at least listen intently and, with sincere regret and caring, explain how the rule exists for the sake of the patient. Why is there no smoking? Not because “it’s our policy.” Instead, “For the health and safety of all of our patients and staff, there’s no smoking.” [more]

Should nurses be the ones to help patients stop smoking?

Not being a nurse, I’ve never really thought about what happens when patients are admitted to the hospital and they are smokers. However, this is something that nurses and healthcare providers have to deal with all the time, and a recent survey says that many are not offering patients any help with quitting.

The survey, published in the July issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research, finds that nurses and healthcare professionals often do not provide information to help patients kick the habit because they feel they lack of training in smoking cessation interventions and that it is not part of their professional responsibilities, among other things. [more]

Nursing reviews change across the country

Everyone has to undergo a performance review, including nurses. At some facilities, it can take place annually, maybe every six months, or even every other year. Nurses may be asked to fill out a 10-page form that helps their managers score qualities such as “leadership” or “respectfulness.” Or maybe the nurses don’t have to fill out a form, but rather have an electronic system tracking every project they do, and if a task is not completed on time, the information is logged into a performance system.

No matter the case, many organizations are changing the way performance reviews are conducted to separate top performers from underachievers. According to Hewitt Associates, 10% of managers and 11% of other employees are now judged solely on the results they achieve, as opposed to a combination of hard figures and additional behavioral characteristics. [more]

Charge Nurse Exemplary Roles: The Icing on the Cake

Charge nurse is a term that has been around since the early 1980s and has often been used interchangeably with other terms, such as unit supervisor or shift supervisor. Charge nurses are accountable to the organization, direct care providers, and patients. They must be sufficiently trained in regulatory requirements such as The Joint Commission’s standards, and they must be adequately familiar with and trained in organizational policies and procedures so that the delivery and coordination of patient care meet organizational expectations.

Aside from the traditional roles charge nurses hold, here is a list of a few of the exemplary roles they also take on:

Educators: The educator role is more than just acting as a resource for the patient care staff. Charge nurses who develop skills as an educator can help bring the patient care team to another level by assisting with staff orientation, equipment, and procedural in-services, updating team members about new clinical practice changes, and helping plan for new education programs based on needs assessments. [more]