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Sleep vital to nurses’ performance

For many nurses, sleep is an afterthought. With long shifts and busy schedules, it can be hard to make the time for a full night’s rest, particularly for night nurses. But it might be worth the effort, both for nurses and their patients.

Most importantly, not getting enough sleep can put patients at risk. Without proper rest, your decision making and reaction time decreases significantly, which can make the difference in in an acute care setting. It can also affect your recall, which might lead to preventable mistakes like incorrectly assessing a patient’s condition or a medication error.

Beyond the patient safety concerns, lack of sleep can also make it harder to perform all of your duties. Amount of sleep has a corresponding impact on your mood. Without enough sleep, you can feel more anxious and stressed out, making it harder for you to communicate with your coworkers and patients. Additionally, sleep is key staying healthy and in shape; so after a long shift, your sore feet and back won’t recover properly unless you get enough sleep.

Nurses learn about the negative effects of sleep deprivation, but never take the time to take care of themselves. So the next time you think about staying out late or taking an extra shift, maybe consider getting some extra rest instead.

For more information about sleep deprivation, visit the National Institutes of Health’s site.

 

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.

California nurses seven-day strike ends in stalemate

On March 15, the newly unionized nurses of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center arranged a seven-day strike in hopes of getting their first collectively-bargained contract.

Last summer, 1,200 nurses voted to join the California Nurses Association (CNA), and the walkout was their first major action since joining the union. Negotiations for a new contract have been taking place since September, and this timed strike is part of the negotiation process. The union hopes to improve the conditions both for the RNs and their patients; the nurses report being understaffed, often having to cover units outside of their specialties, and seek economic improvements to attract and retain qualified nurses. Another concern brought up by the union is the hospital’s plans to open a medical school in the next few years, which will put additional strain on the hospital and its staff. The combination of factors led to the strike.

Kaiser Permanente expressed disappointment at the nurse’s tactic, and claims that they made a fair offer last month that went without a response. Additionally, Kaiser notes that their nurses are among the highest paid in the region, and their new offer would keep them there.

All of this is happening among growing concerns about healthcare coverage, as demand has spiked over the past few years.

The striking RNs have gone back to work after seven days of picketing, and negotiations between the two sides are still ongoing.

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.

What to know about new nurses: Motivating millennials

Last year, millennials passed Gen Xers in workforce numbers, and now make up the majority of the workers in the  U.S. according to the Pew Research Center. Another study shows that two out of three millennial workers hope to have a different job in five years, and that one in four said they might leave their job to pursue a different career. Nursing is not immune to this trend, so it’s more important than ever to keep your young staff motivated and engaged to prevent short-staffing. Below are some tips for engaging your millennial staff!

Show trust: Millennial workers tend to have an independent streak and want to find their own way; by showing your staff that you trust them to make decisions will bolster their confidence and engage their creativity. If you micromanage young workers, their more likely to pull away from your group and look elsewhere for career advancements.

Provide support and access:  Showing trust does not mean leaving them alone. Millennial workers want to hear feedback from their superiors, and providing frequent in-person contact is very important for their job satisfaction. Make sure you’re willing to listen to them and provide support whenever possible.

Emphasize relationships: Similarly, millennial workers have a strong sense of commitment to others and seek to establish meaningful connections with their coworkers.  Try to cultivate a close-knit staff by encouraging social outings and holding staff events; the unit will work better as a team and young staff will feel more connected to their job.

Talk about the future: Millennial workers are not likely to wait around for career advancements. If you can outline a career trajectory in your facility and help them get there, your young staff will be much happier in their position. Try to keep bureaucratic road blocks to a minimum, and you could have a future nurse leader for your hospital.

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Rock Your Health: How to deal with a dilemma

Recently I was faced with a decision to compromise my belief over yielding to conventional thinking that I now know is in question.  For example, we now know that cholesterol is no longer the cause of heart disease. Inflammation is.  But conventional thinkers may not have changed their thinking on this issue because new information takes time to catch up with everyone.

Because it is my job to educate on health issues and keep people informed with the latest scientific evidence, it is not always readily acceptable to the masses. So the challenge is – do you yield to the old paradigm or do you take the risk of telling the new truth and standing out on a limb?

I remember when I entered the field of wellness and when I tried to educate about it in the healthcare system one physician said to me “there is no such word as wellness.” But I of course forged ahead and now look where we are with wellness – front and center!

So how do you handle this? Please email me your comments to carol@carolebert.com.

Nurses bring layers of diversity to hospital leadership

In just about every field, there are discrepancies between leadership positions and the population they represent; health care is no different. The American Hospital Association’s Institute for Diversity conducted a national survey that found that minorities made up 31 percent of the patient population, but only 17 percent of first and mid-level management positions. There’s even less representation in upper management roles, with 14 percent of hospital board members and 12 percent of executive leadership roles filled by minorities.

As the hospitals’ population get more diverse, so should its leadership. This doesn’t just mean racial diversity, but gender, experience, and cultural diversity as well. Hospitals that have a multitude of perspectives will serve their population better and make the hospital more successful.

In terms of diversity of experience, nurses can bring a useful perspective to executive leadership. Many hospital executives come from a business background and don’t have the kind of on the ground experience nurses can bring to the table. Medical staff generally prefer leadership that is familiar with their experience, that can relate to how big-picture decisions can effect day-to-day practices in hospitals. Additionally, nurses have more racial diversity compared to executive leadership, so they would bring that experience to the table as well.

However, there are a lot of barriers to nurses trying to obtain leadership positions. As a nursing student, nurses are much more focused on learning patient care than management techniques. Nurses don’t get much formal training in finance or business, so staying competitive might mean seeking a time-consuming and expensive degree on the side. There is also a possible stigma against nurses from executives, so much so that the American Nursing Association reports that RNs seeking executive work often leave that off their resume. As one nurse told them: “Well, I don’t want to put RN after my name because some people might not think that I know as much about business, or that might be a detractor when I’m competing with others in the C-Suite, especially men in the C-Suite.”

While perspectives are slowly shifting, along with diversity numbers in hospital leadership, nurses taking on larger leadership roles can help hospitals and their patients.

How rethinking reviews can boost staff morale

Performance review time is never easy. Managers have the uncomfortable task of assessing their team, and the staff is uneasy about what a poor review could mean for their career; if a review goes poorly, it can lead to tension and dissatisfaction long after the review. A new study in The Nursing Management Journal proposes a new way of approaching performance reviews that could make the process a little easier on everyone.

A task force of nurse leaders from a Magnet® recognized hospital system sought to make their process more objective after receiving staff feedback that their performance reviews were too subjective. Previously, the nurse manager would evaluate staff based on the fulfillment of their job description, meeting performance outcomes, and following care commitment guidelines. The team revised the RN job description to better fit the staff’s responsibilities, then created performance metrics based around the revised job description. They hoped that this would provide the staff with measurable results for their performance review and tangible goals for improvement.

The staff responded to this new criteria-based model for reviews. The surveyed nurses said that the new system was more transparent and consistent, and they liked that the results were evidence-based and didn’t hinge on personal bias. Overall, 71.7% of the surveyed staff felt the new process accurately reflected their performance, versus the 37.8% under the previous method. So while performance reviews will always be a headache, perhaps moving to a criteria-based model will help ease the pain.

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Combating depression in nurses

Nurses are twice as likely to experience clinical depression than the general population. Why aren’t we talking about it?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) found that 18% of nurses exhibit symptoms of depression, compared to the 9% found in the general public. Nurses are happy to talk about their staff shortages or their back problems, but we almost never see serious discussions about mental health issues.

Minority Nurse suggests that nursing culture exacerbates the depression issue. Nurses take great pride in their survivability and toughness; they often see trials facing new nurses as a proving ground, a way of weeding out those who are not cut out for the job. This leads nurses struggling with depression to bury their feelings and work twice as hard, which will make things worse in the long run.

There’s also the idea that mental health issues are seen as a weakness. Nurses rely on each other to be reliable and trustworthy, and someone who is struggling might be easily dismissed as unreliable. This puts their job at risk, and can affect their relationship with peers. Additionally, the nurse mentality is to put the care of others first; many nurses might not release why their suffering, as they so rarely address their own needs.

If admitting they have a problem or asking for help is often the last thing a nurse wants to do, how do you help them? The process starts with nurse managers. Educating managers about the warning signs of depression, and they in turn train their staff to recognize the condition in themselves and their peers. Coming up with strategies to help depressed nurses that aren’t punitive and making sure their staff have resources available to them can help alleviate the fears associated with mental illness.  Showing the staff that it’s okay to talk about mental illness and that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness will help change the “tough it out” culture of nursing.

Addressing mental health issues can help improve nurse retention as well. Instead of “weeding out” the weak links, supporting new nurses through a crisis and encouraging them to get help will keep them at their jobs longer, and make them better nurses for the rest of their career.

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Become an HCPro Author

Last summer, we asked you to join our Nursing Book Review Group and the response was overwhelming. We are thrilled with how many of you were eager to share your thoughts and ideas for a variety of our nursing products.

We are looking for enthusiastic nurse managers, nurse leaders, and nurse educators who are willing to become authors and share their experiences, success stories, and lessons learned with fellow colleagues.

We’re currently looking for authors for an upcoming critical thinking text as well as an upcoming nursing program orientation text. If this is something you’re interested in, please email me at mclarke@hcpro.com. You don’t have to be an experienced author, we’ll provide you with the tools and guidance needed.

If you have an idea for a different book than the topics already mentioned, please email us. We’re always looking for new topics that will help you do your jobs better.

Note: If you didn’t have a chance to join our Nursing Book Review Group last year, keep an eye on this spot for an upcoming announcement about the group.

We look forward to hearing from you!