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Nurses push to prevent assault in healthcare

Healthcare professionals are four times as likely to be assaulted on the job compared to other professions, and lawmakers in Massachusetts are looking to strengthen protections for nurses and healthcare workers.

Last week, the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) endorsed bill S.765/H.795, which would strengthen penalties against assaults on healthcare workers. The MNA has called the bill Elise’s Law, in honor of Elise Wilson, a nurse that was stabbed multiple times on the job last month. The bill would increase the penalty for assaulting emergency medical technicians, ambulance operators and attendees, or healthcare providers from a misdemeanor to a felony. The bill would also streamline how victims of healthcare violence can use the justice system, making it easier to seek legal recourse for their injuries.

The bill is part of a larger effort to improve prevention and response to workplace violence in healthcare. “Health care professionals are being assaulted at a rate four times greater than those working in other industries,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, president of the MNA, in a press release. “Fear of violence and actual violence is rampant in Massachusetts health care facilities. An assault on a nurse is a serious action and should be taken seriously by our judicial system.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care workers experience the most non-fatal workplace violence compared to other professionals, and account for 70% of all non-fatal workplace assaults. A survey conducted by the MNA found that 75% of nurses reported that violence was a problem in their workplace, and the Emergency Nurses Association reports that 80% of emergency department nurses have been a victim of workplace violence.

For information on how to prepare your facility for workplace violence, check out this excerpt from Preventing Workplace Violence: Handbook for Healthcare Workers.

Clinical Nurse Leaders, partners in quality improvement

Quality within any healthcare system depends on improving patient outcomes, which rely on continual nursing professional development and overall improvements in system performance. One of your most important resources for managing such improvements is the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL). This clinician is a Master’s prepared Advanced Generalist nurse who builds quality measures in patient care outcomes and implements evidence-based practice principles at the clinical point of care and service. These outcomes align with the facility’s goals and strategic plan and can positively impact patient care processes.

 

For example, when working with a CNL, you can align the care team with strategic performance goals. CNLs and the Quality Systems team are important resources for strategic planning for quality and performance improvement (objectives, priorities, expectations, deliverables, and timelines). Working together, you can establish an infrastructure for engaging and motivating staff and other team members to work toward achieving improved patient care outcomes within the organization’s measures of performance. CPI only happens when everyone engages to improve management of operations and care delivery.

 

As the context of healthcare environments continually evolves and changes, your role becomes more complex and demanding. However, these growing challenges offer expanding opportunities for developing partnerships with your nurse manager, CNLs, and interprofessional team members to improve quality, practice, and competency in managing unit operations and coordinating patient care. By taking of advantage of these opportunities, you can help create a unit culture of safety, quality, and practice excellence.

Source: The Effective Charge Nurse Handbook

Include Cultural Diversity Training in Orientation

Healthcare professionals have varied views about what the term cultural diversity means and the actual purpose of cultural diversity training. They may believe that such training is initiated primarily to help them avoid professional and legal problems rather than improve patient care (Nisha et al 2007). Others are genuinely concerned about being culturally sensitive when working with patients and collaborating with colleagues. NPD practitioners know that the primary purposes of cultural diversity education are to improve:

  • Healthcare professional–patient communication
  • Healthcare professional–family communication
  • Communication among healthcare professionals
  • Patient and family outcomes

Cultural diversity education is also a requirement of some accrediting agencies.  However, this is not the primary purpose of such education. Your cultural diversity programming should be practical and based on evidence that directs its design.

It is not easy to add more content to an orientation program. However, cultural awareness will help new employees to assimilate into the organization. Role play, discussion, and distance-learning techniques can all be used to provide basic information. Allow time for in-person discussion as well. Include information about how cultural differences manifest themselves in patients, visitors, and colleagues and present learners with scenarios that require them to make choices based on cultural appropriateness.

What topics should you include as part of diversity education?

It is not possible to include all aspects of multiple cultures in a diversity program. However, if cultural diversity is part of your competency program, you can regularly add material about aspects of various cultures.

The following is information to include in your initial training:

  • How do members of this culture communicate? What significance do body language, gestures, tone of voice, and eye contact have? Which family members take the lead in communicating with people outside of their culture?
  • What specific family/gender issues exist? What is the woman’s role? How are major decisions made?
  • What role does religion play?
  • How is pain expressed?
  • What are common health practices (e.g., alternative medicine, herbal medicine, home
    remedies, etc.)?
  • How do families deal with pregnancy and births?
  • Is there a standard work ethic valued in the culture? How are specific occupations viewed
    in terms of respectability, financial need, and appropriateness?
  • Are there dietary restrictions associated with this culture?
  • Are there specific political beliefs that influence people of this culture?
  • Are there specific conflicts between certain cultural groups that may surface within your organization?

Source: Staff Development Made Simple

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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