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Injured Nurses, Part 2: OSHA has your back

Attention nurse leaders in organizations
without designated “lift teams” or assistive
devices for moving patients

Your business case for investing in a cutting-edge, osha2safe patient handling program has been made clearly and indisputably by OSHA, with the help of results from numerous case studies, research reports, and collected data. The benefits are exceptional, and the financial ROI is achievable in one to four years.

Take a quick trip to the OSHA website for wealth of tools, including a form you can use to evaluate your organization, a checklist for designing your safe patient handling program, illustrative case studies, and more.

One more note: NPR plans a fourth installment on the Injured Nurses series, so keep checking the NPR website. Here’s what they’re promising:

Part 4 will explore how the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented
a nationwide $200 million program to prevent nursing employees
from getting injured when they move and lift patients.

And, finally, I’ve uploaded the PDF of Table 18 (promised in my previous post), which you can download from our Tools Library.

Injured Nurses: Who has your back?

In 2013 your nursing staff faced a
15% greater chance of spine injury
than firefighters.

Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Table 18 for the spine injury picfinal tabulated 2013 rates of musculoskeletal injuries for FT workers, compared by occupation. Firefighters—who lug heavy ladders, people, and equipment daily—had a rate of 232 per 10,000. For nursing staff, the total was 264 per 10,000 full-time RNs and nursing assistants. A spine injury can end a career in the blink of an eye. But how can these injuries be prevented?

Your mother’s admonition to “bend your knees” while lifting something heavy may not be enough to protect the backs of your nursing staff. In an ongoing article series entitled Injured Nurses, NPR takes a look at what can happen when nurses depend solely on proper body mechanics (essentially, keeping your back straight while following mom’s advice) for moving patients. As of this writing, you’ll find three installments on NPR.org that explore the problem, possible solutions, and how some hospitals may or may not “have your back.”

On a positive note, the Baptist Health System reports that the Transfer and Lift with Care program it introduced in 2007 has reduced patient-handling injuries in their organization by 81%. One important factor in their success? Investing in assistive equipment and devices in each of its five hospitals.

If I can get specific statistics and practices from Baptist, I’ll post them here for you to share with your peers and hospital administrators. I’ll also post a link to a PDF of Table 18, which should be a little easier on the eyes than the official version.

In the meanwhile, if you’d like to share ways your organization has your back, feel free to comment below.

Ben Franklin’s advice to nurse preceptors

Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I remember.
Involve me and I learn.

How do you provide preceptees with constructive advice Ben Franklin2
or feedback? Do you tell them what they did wrong and spell out how to correct it? Or do you encourage them to use critical-thinking skills to truly ingrain a personal understanding of ways to improve their practice?

Look at these two approaches to feedback, and see which you think would be more effective. (More examples excerpted from The Preceptor Program Builder can be found in the Reading Room.)

The preceptor observes the preceptee greeting the manager correctly, giving her name, and stating that she is a preceptee. However, she was not wearing her name tag.

Evaluative feedback
Your name tag is missing, and the manager
won’t like it!

Descriptive feedback
You greeted the manager according to the facility protocol.
Can you think of anything that would help your manager remember you?

The descriptive feedback encourages the preceptee to use critical thinking, which illustrates Ben Franklin’s timeless recommendation to “involve me, and I learn.”

If you would like to share “aha” moments and techniques for constructive feedback, please feel free to comment below…

Budget Item: Skis and Snowshoes for Nurses?

RN SkierThe New England winter of 2015 has made headlines across the country. According to The Boston Globe, some hospitals had to rely on the Boston police to deliver essential staff members to work, and taxis to take patients home.

The Globe also reported that “some managers at Mass. General went door-to-door on their drive into the city, picking up as many colleagues as their cars could handle, and other staffers slept overnight on mattresses in the hospital’s conference rooms because they worried they wouldn’t make it back in Tuesday.” And Boston Medical Center’s spokeswoman Ellen Slingsby reported “numerous staff members who have walked considerable distances or even skied into work in order to be here for our patients.”

Which brings me to the title of this blog. Somewhere in next year’s operational budget, nurse managers in the snowier states should consider adding funding for skis and snowshoes for staff.

The ROI is clear: Better staffing during blizzards and a healthier, more athletic staff.

Take Care of the Caretakers; Take Care of Ourselves

Nurses, the caretakers on the front line, often work shifts of 12 hours and more, and may work up to 50 or even 60 hours per week. Fatigue is a way of life, threatening the health of those nurses, as well as the quality of the care they can provide. As a nurse manager, you struggle with balancing staffing with your budget, so you know this story all too well.

Now the ANA is pushing for new limits on consecutive night shifts and shifts longer than 12 hours (see ANA press release) as a way of supporting the health of nurses, positive patient outcomes, and nursing professional standards. Until the ANA recommendations become practice, what can you, the nurse manager, do to take care of yourself and your staff today, to improve the work environment and the energy they bring to it?

(Hint, the answer comes from our latest nursing book, Essential Skills for Nurse Managers, and you will find suggestions for how to renew your energy here.)

Aetna’s Preceptor Program: The Proof Is in the Program

Do preceptors and preceptees benefit by moving from an
ad-hoc preceptoring program to a formal one?

Lorri Freifeld, editor-in-chief at Training: The Source for Professional Development, recently reported some exciting findings from a formal nurse preceptor program initiated by Aetna, Inc.

Following a 6-month pilot, Aetna launched a formal nurse preceptor program in January 2013. At its outset, the formal program provided 65% of new hires with preceptors, incorporated beefed-up workshop offerings, instituted weekly progress reports between preceptors and their supervisors, increased communication of best practices, created a community calendar of training events, and implemented on-demand training and follow-up with recently preceptored new hires.

The result after three months?

  • 53% of new hires were managing a full caseload
  • 100% of preceptors said soft skills training was sufficient (up from 0%!)
  • 97% of preceptors felt the tools and resources were effective
  • 67% of new hires reported having adequate time with their preceptors

And after six months?

  • Turnover was down 50%
  • 100% of new hires had a preceptor
  • 150 new preceptor volunteers had joined the program

Pretty impressive and immediate results from a new program. Kudos to Aetna for committing to a professional approach in this most important phase of a new hire’s experience.


To read the full article, click here.

To see related HCPro offerings, including The Preceptor Program Builder, click here.

Do you have a compelling idea for a nursing book?

As a leading publisher of nursing and other healthcare products—including books, newsletters, webinars, and online training—HCPro is a great place to publish. If you have an idea for a book or other product that will benefit the profession of nursing, we would like to hear from you.

At HCPro, we value our expert authors as the foundation of our business and strive to build long-term relationships with them. We collaborate with our authors—a diverse and knowledgeable group of people focused on creating a personally satisfying and improved healthcare workplace for themselves and their colleagues. The nurses, nurse educators, and nurse managers who read our books appreciate our focus on quality, from project inception through collaborative development, publication, and distribution.

Whether you want to write a book, blog post, or article, or create a webinar, we’ll provide you with the feedback and tools you need to be successful. Contact us for more information.

Some topics we’re interested in: Managing intergenerational teams, delegation and supervision across the care continuum, charge nurse insights, creating a culture of safety, effective communications.

Anti-bullying bill in Massachusetts legislature

Boston is widely recognized as the vanguard of New England healthcare, employing tens of thousands of nursing professionals who care for hundreds of thousands of patients each year. Now Massachusetts is taking on one of the scourges of the nursing profession: Horizontal hostility.

Currently in a third attempt to pass the Massachusetts legislature, the Healthy Workplace Bill is aimed directly at creating procedures and penalties for bullying by co-workers and managers.  If the bill is passed during the current legislative session, Massachusetts will earn bragging rights as the first state in the nation to enact a comprehensive workplace-bullying bill.

For an in-depth look at Bella English’s Boston Globe feature on bullying and this landmark bill, read it here.

You can also download an exclusive excerpt from the second edition of Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility. In the excerpt we prepared for Nurses’ Week, Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN, discusses the faces of horizontal hostility and bullying in nursing school and offers positive ways that students can be supported and mentored as they begin their nursing careers. Download the excerpt here.

National Nurse Recognition Day: Do you feel recognized?

Happy Nurses Week! Today kicks off the annual celebrations and May 6 is officially National Nurse Recognition Day.

Do you feel recognized? Have you been celebrated by the organization where you work? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

A few years ago, I wrote a story for HealthLeaders Media (a sister company of HCPro) about the annual celebration of Nurses Week. I titled the article “Do we still need Nurses Week?” and used the question as a way to examine whether nurses receive the recognition they deserve all year long.

“[E]ach year, health systems make a big deal out of Nurses Week. Nurses are thanked, exalted, and much is made of the touchy-feely aspect of nursing. There’s a guilt complex at work here-one-week recognition permits nurses to be ignored and under-valued for the remaining 51 weeks.”

As we give gifts, enjoy celebrations, and feast on platters of cookies this week, let’s also make sure we take time to discuss the crucial role nurses play in patient safety. If you’re a manager, take time to talk about not only the caring side of your staff’s work, but their highly skilled, critical thinking professionalism.

“Let’s frame this year’s Nurse Week festivities less in the context of nurses as angelic heroes (they are) and celebrate the highly-skilled professionals who possess critical-thinking, problem-solving, and care coordination skills that ensure patient safety every day.”

Editor’s note: HCPro is celebrating and recognizing nurses all week long with special giveaways, prizes, and promotions. To kick off the celebrations, all of our nursing products are 20% off! Starting May 6, use discount code NRSWK2014 at checkout to receive 20% off any product.

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 StrategiesforNurseManagers.com, 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!