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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?

Allina and nurses agree to end strike

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) and Allina Health have reached an agreement after months of negotiations and weeks of striking.

Last week, we reported that Allina nurses were about to enter their second month on strike after another round of failed negotiations. This week, the two sides finally reached a tentative resolution that should end the nurse’s strike.

Health care coverage had been a sticking point in negotiations; Allina wanted to transfer nurses away from their nurse-only insurance policy onto the more cost-effective corporate plan. The new agreement states that nurses will be moved off their current insurance by 2018, but the company has agreed to make additional contributions to HRA/HAS accounts in the next four years. The MNA representatives believe that this will protect nurses from any future benefit reductions.

Although the rank-and-file nurses still need to vote on the proposed terms, this deal is backed with the unanimous endorsement of the MNA, unlike the previous deal.

Allina nurses go back on strike

Allina nurses enter their second month of striking after voting “No” the most recent contract proposal.

The nurses at Allina Health hospitals in Minnesota began contract discussions in February, and eight months later, Allina and the nurses have yet to settle on an offer. Allina Health’s 4000 nurses walked out for a week in June to start negotiations, and have been striking since Labor Day.

The dispute started when Allina wanted to eliminate the nurses’ union-backed health plans, with high premiums but low deductibles, and replace them with their corporate plan, saving the company $10 million per year. Both sides have agreed to move all nurses by 2020, but the nurses want input on the plans to ensure they get quality healthcare.

Allina made a new contract offer on Monday, and the nurses voted to reject this latest offer and continue the strike. The Minnesota Nurses Association reports that the offer was largely the same that they rejected in August, while Allina insists that their offer was fair and addressed many of the concerns raised by the unions.

This is set to become the longest strike in state history, and the Star Tribune reports that the strikes have cost Allina more than $40 million dollars so far.

For more information about nurse labor disputes, check out these articles from the Strategies for Nurse Managers’ Reading Room:

Ask the Experts: Nurses strikes

Why do nurses join unions? Because they can

Rock Your Health: Network or Die!

Are you contemplating having your own business? Check this out!

Did you know that “people need people” and in some cases when people don’t have human contact they can die? Newborns denied physical contact with other humans can actually die from this lack of contact, even when provided with proper nutrition and shelter. Older people who lack social contacts may be at increased risk of death if acute symptoms develop, because there is less of a network of confidantes to prompt medical attention.

Working for yourself is certainly different than having a job working for a boss and being around lots of people all day. There are always opportunities to make connections, be seen and known, and create new opportunities. But when you work for yourself, it is up to you to make those connections happen.

I’m just giving you a reality check in case you are about to embark on starting a business of your own and want to find out how to grow your business and avoid the “kiss of death” that happens to 50% of new businesses.

NETWORKING rules as a business builder and here’s why:

N – new connections are made with new people who may need your services
E – enjoyment happens when you learn about people’s hopes and dreams
T – trust develops when you connect with people on a regular basis
W – wonderful conversations often lead to friendships
O – opportunities arise to find even more people whom you can serve
R – rewards come from being able to help someone improve their life
K – kindred spirits show up the more people you meet
I – intimate conversations can lead to deeper relationships
N – notice what happens when you give the gift of listening to another person
G – great things occur when great people get together

So if you are going into business for yourself, networking with people on a regular basis is critical – but pays off with great rewards. What are your thoughts about this issue?

Women executives face more criticism than men

There are many hurdles for women pursuing executive roles. Normally a male-dominated field, many women struggle to get the opportunities and resources they need to obtain leadership and executive positions. Unfortunately, things don’t get much easier once they get there, according to a new study.

The Harvard Business Review published a study by the Yale School of Management that investigated gender stereotypes in executive evaluations. The study gave participants a scenario where a police chief misused resources and let a protest get out of hand. In one scenario, the police chief was male, in another the chief was female. The female chief received significantly more criticism than the male; some participants suggested that she get demoted, while none of the participants suggested that for the male chief. This pattern continued: “A decision that backfired led to harsher scrutiny for female leaders.”

The study concluded that women in positions that are traditionally occupied by men—which are often leadership roles, unfortunately—were criticized because they were going against gender stereotypes. For nurse leaders looking to transition to executive positions, this is yet another hurdle to overcome.

For more articles about women in health care, check out some of our articles in the Strategies for Nurse Managers Reading Room:

Women in healthcare want to find a healthy work-life balance

Nurses bring layers of diversity to hospital leadership

Registered nurses not immune to industry influence

There’s been a concerted effort over the last few years to provide transparency for medical industries interaction with doctors, thanks to the Physicians Payments Sunshine Act instituted by the US Senate in 2010. The Sunshine Act requires medical manufacturers, such as drug and medical supply companies, to report payments and gifts given to physicians and teaching hospitals; the goal is to ensure that doctors are not swayed to make care decisions based on financial gains and prevent conflicts of interest. Last fall, two senators proposed a bill to amend the Sunshine Act that would include nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) as well, acknowledging that NPs and PAs wrote 14% of all drug prescriptions in 2014 and require the same transparency as doctors.

A new study released this week suggests that even registered nurses (RNs) without prescribing authority could be subject to these sort of interactions with the medical industry. All of the RNs that participated in the study said they had interacted with industry over the past year, averaging 13 one-on-one meetings over the year. Many also participated in sponsored meals or events, received gift offers and product samples, and some received payments for speaking, consulting, and market research work. Most interactions were with medical device and pharmaceutical companies, but some reported interactions with health technology and infant formula industries as well.

Though RNs don’t have prescribing authority, many nurses are part of purchasing committees for their facility. RNs play an integral role in decision-making throughout their facility, and there are no regulations for transparency between RNs and medical industries. Though the sample size is small (56 RNs participated in the study), the authors of the study think the results warrant additional research and regulation. As the largest and most-trusted healthcare profession in the US, it’s important to make sure RNs maintain their trustworthy reputation with their patients.

You can read the full study here, and an editorial accompanying the study here.

For more information about open payments data, check out CMS’s open payments site.

Perspectives on nurse leadership

The responsibilities of nurse leaders are changing rapidly and the role is more fluid than ever. We collected perspectives from several nurse leaders on how nurse leaders can stay effective in the ever-changing world of healthcare.

Jeanine Frumenti, RN, an expert in leadership consulting, posits that the most important aspect of nurse leadership is the ability to create a healthy work environment. “[Nurse Leaders are] always looking at what’s good for the organization, what’s good for their patients, their staff, their team — it’s not about them. And their focus stays on the goal… They’re transformational, giving those around them a voice, encouraging them to share in the decision-making, and owning their work and their practice.” This focus creates a healthy culture, that can allow their staff to flourish and take pride in their work.

Toby Cosgrove, CEO and President at Cleveland Clinic, writes that healthcare leaders need to embrace the quickly changing healthcare environment to remain effective. “Today’s leaders must have a clear vision of the future based on the most fundamental values of the organization. We need to communicate our strategies, achieve consensus, and move quickly to implement change. Innovation is essential, and so is the courage to fail. Most importantly, we must never give up.” Cosgrove agrees that leaders should rely on their staff and create an environment for them to grow: “A leader creates a learning environment that opens all caregivers to new skills and capabilities. Each of us needs to inspire and uplift our teams with a commitment to their professional growth and development.”

Claire Zangerlie, MSN, MBA, RN
, president and CNO for the Visiting Nurse Association in Cleveland, Ohio, argues that this impetus to teach should be applied to patients as well through population health management. As nurse leaders take on more and more responsibility, they will be able to educate “entire populations of patients through workshops and printed materials.” According to Zangerlie and her team, competencies that nurse leaders will need for population health management include: “Effective communication, including excellent negotiation skills; relationship management, including asserting views in nonjudgmental, nonthreatening ways; [and] diversity, including creating an environment that recognizes and values differences in staff, patients, families and providers.”

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Featured webcast: Drug Diversion in Healthcare: Improve Security and Avoid Fines

Phcpro_live_webcast-iconreventing the theft of controlled substances at hospitals continues to be an tremendous issue even with increased security measures. Failed drug diversion programs in hospitals have led to record fines and in the midst of heightened scrutiny over drug security, hospitals must improve their processes to avoid litigation.

On Thursday, April 26 from 1–2:30 p.m. Eastern Time, join us for a live webinar with expert speaker Kimberly New, JD, a nurse, attorney, and consultant who specializes in helping hospitals prevent, detect, and respond to drug diversion.

During this program, New will discuss drug diversion by healthcare personnel and present specific steps facilities can take to minimize the risk of patient harm. She will discuss fundamental components of a diversion prevention, detection, and response program through an overview of the scope of the problem, including case studies. New will also review regulatory standards and best practices relating to controlled substance security and diversion responses. She will additionally provide tips on how to promote a culture in which all employees play a significant role in the deterrence effort.

At the conclusion of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Identify risk factors and signs of employee drug diversion
  • Fully comply with regulatory requirements of the DEA and other accrediting organizations
  • Train staff on how to report suspected abuse and who to report it to
  • Create a culture of accountability and develop an effective drug diversion prevention plan

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear practical advice and have complex regulations simplified in this program suitable for your whole organization. For more information or to order the webcast on demand, call HCPro customer service at 800-650-6787 or visit the HCPro Marketplace.

Getting nurses from bedside to the boardroom

Last week, we discussed some of the benefits of having nurses in executive positions. It is crucial to bring a myriad of perspectives to these positions, and nurses are significantly underrepresented in hospital leadership. This week, Becker’s Hospital Review has offered up some tips about how nurses can prepare for hospital board seats.

The first thing an aspiring nurse should consider is the core competencies of the hospital board. This can be a little different for each hospital, so having a specific facility or type of facility in mind would be helpful; if you can find a facility that matches your nursing specialty, even better. Often, boards have lists of competencies, so not having the right core skills can sink an application right away.

Once you establish the required skills would need, you can begin working towards that goal. Many nurses don’t have opportunities to develop governance skills on the job, so it might be helpful to look outside the hospital for that. Volunteer board positions in their community or at a nonprofit organization can be a great way to get experience in governance and make nurses more appealing candidates for board positions.

Connections are key in this process as well. Nurses should meet with board members and the chair if possible, to better understand the board’s mission and how they might align with it. These relationships can be crucial to obtaining a board position, but also to keep it. Board members can become mentors that can teach nurses how to navigate their new responsibilities and help them through the gauntlet of new board membership.

Ask the expert: Switching nurse specialties

Changing specialties has become an integral part of a nurse’s career growth. We spoke with Elaine Foster, Ph.D., MSN, RN, Associate Dean, Nursing Graduate Programs at American Sentinel University about this trend and what nurses should consider when making a change.

“Nurses have a powerful thirst for knowledge and a stron­g desire to learn and grow, and this often translates into motivation to make a career change. Many will reach a time when they would like to experience different professional opportunities,” says Foster. “In the nursing world, we need to actually help people plan out their career strategies, and it would help new nurses if they received more guidance; we don’t spend a lot of time painting the overall picture of healthcare.”

So where should a nurse considering a career change start? Foster advises that a nurse should start by researching their areas of interest and finding a specialty that fits them. “Read articles, talk to nurses in that field, assess the job market in your area, and learn everything you can about the specialty you are interested in.”

Another important factor to consider is education: does the specialty require more education or certification? Foster notes that in the past, it was more common for nurses to receive on-the-job training and end up in management positions without formal training, but in recent years, nurses require formal education and credentials to advance their careers.

After conducting your research, Foster suggests talking to people currently working in the field. Networking is crucial to making a career shift, and making a connection with an experienced nurse in your field provides plenty of benefits. Shadowing a nurse in your field gives you first-hand experience with the day-to-day demands of the position, and if you do end up pursuing the new specialty, your contact could provide job leads or even become a preceptor in the future.

Finally, before you make a career change, Foster advises that you reflect on the benefits and consider the costs. “Think about how this change will impact you in the future and what you might have to give up now to get that future five years down the road,” she says. “It took ten years to get my PhD; I had to give up a few things, but I’m grateful that I did.”

For more career-shift strategies, check out American Sentinel University’s guide.