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Energize and motivate staff to conduct research

A motivated nursing staff is key to achieving outcomes of excellence. All facilities require motivation from nurses to increase productivity and service in a creative, efficient manner. However, this isn’t always an easy task, especially when you are trying to motivate your nurses to get involved in research.

Some organizations may tie research into professional development expectations, such as in a clinical ladder or other career advancement program. Others may reward and celebrate nurses who engage in research, such as recognizing them as “change champions” and allowing them time off from the unit to participate in committees or team-building projects. Consider doing the following to get your staff excited about conducting research:

  • Send thank-you cards and e-mails
  • Present employees with certificates to hang on the wall (you can make professional-looking certificates with any desktop word processing software)
  • Provide team/ peer recognition (e.g., in a hospital newsletter)
  • Encourage team members to aim for advancement
  • Provide designated parking spots for employees who have excelled
  • Present new challenges to team members (do not let them “coast” once a project has been completed)

How do you boost staff motivation at your facility?

Professional life coaching: Put your own oxygen on first

by Phyllis Quinlan, RNC, MS, CLNC, CEN, CCRN

So you still love nursing, but the stress, frustration, and sometimes confusion can be a real barrier to personal and professional satisfaction. You sense you want something more, although you can’t quite identify what that might be or how to achieve it. A professional life coach may be just the solution to figuring out exactly what the next step is. Nurses have a longstanding reputation for eating their young. Wouldn’t be great if there was a way to change that perception?

Professional life coaching for nurses can be one approach to doing just that. Coaching is not a clinical or therapeutic process. Coaching has its roots in wellness. The starting point for a professional life coach is that the person seeking the coaching is a healthy individual who is already competent and capable. He or she is in need of a safe sounding board, encouragement, and empowerment. The coaching relationship is based on mutual respect, trust, and honest communication.

Coaching is distinctly unique from and not to be confused with mentoring. Mentoring usually prepares you for a particular professional role while coaching is focused on a self-development process. Coaching sessions are private, conducted one-on-one, either in person or by phone. Nurses can be comfortable sharing their strengths, shortcomings, and concerns–knowing that what they share will be used to their benefit and doesn’t threaten the security of their job.

The literature demonstrates that the cost of recruiting and training a new employee to fill a vacated position can be equal to a nurse’s annual salary. Perhaps nursing leaders should consider collaborating with their human resource departments to embrace the use of coaches to retain nurses.

Nurses actually get a kick from helping other human beings when they are most in need. This is an amazing characteristic that usually does not end when the shift is over. We’ve chosen giving and nurturing as a way of life. Self care is not something we place high our lists. However, we could take a huge lesson from the airline stewards. Put your oxygen on first so that you are safe and therefore capable of helping others.

For more information about professional life coaching email Phyllis Quinlan at mfwconsultants@mindspring.com.

Does professional life coaching interest you?

Team building idea!

This is a quick idea you can implement either at the beginning or the end of a staff meeting. The purpose if two-fold: To provide opportunity for staff to identify unit concerns they’d like to see addressed, and To help staff think outside the box for possible solutions.

You Need:
A piece of paper and a pen for each person; a small basket.

What To Do:
1)
Ask each staff member to write a unit problem, issue or concern they’d like help to solve (you may need to describe an acceptable concern that can be addressed by staff).
2) Staff then folds their paper and drops it in the basket.
3) Ask one person to choose a folded paper. Without reading it, ask him/her to hand the paper to someone else.
4) The recipient of the folded paper selects 2 peers with whom he/she would like to work.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until everyone is on a problem-solving team.
6) Allow each team 5 – 10 minutes to compile ideas, suggestions or a soltution for the problem on their paper.
7) Each team has 1 minute to read the problem and describe their intended solution.

To Discuss:
1) Timeline for implementation of the solution(s).
2) Why don’t we think to ask each other for help more often?
3) How can we encourage each other to ask for help when it’s needed?
4) What should we do with the folded papers we didn’t get to today?

A Quote To Ponder:
“Forget about all the reasons why something may not work. You only need to find one good reason why it will.”
~ Dr. Robert Anthony, PhD.

MRSA is not a scarlet letter

by Sharon L. Taylor RN, BSN, MS, CIC, CPHRM

MRSA is fast becoming a household word. It is seen in the national media on a frequent basis. Healthcare workers are being scrutinized by patients and their families for their infection control practices, especially handwashing. While this publicity is good in that it has increased the attention paid by healthcare workers to their practice, it also has a scare effect on patients, the public, and surprisingly some healthcare workers. While being afraid of “catching” something is good because it puts us on alert, it can also cast a stigma on those who have an infection or are colonized with bacteria such as MRSA.

I propose that it is part of the nurse’s role, as patient advocate, to be sure that MRSA patients have the information needed to live their lives while minimizing the risk of transmission. If the appropriate information is given to patients, situations such as the one that occurred last fall where a young elementary student was banned from attending class because she had a MRSA skin infection will not exist. She was subsequently allowed to return after the appropriate information was given to school officials, but had the damage already been done?

How can nurses help prevent these situations from occurring? First and foremost–by being a role model. Healthcare workers need to realize that what they do and say is deemed important in the public’s eyes. Also, by using teachable moments and scripting, patient teaching does not have to be burdensome. For example, you can teach your patient by simply saying, “I’m washing my hands after changing your dressing and before helping you to the chair to prevent the spread of the infection.” They learn by watching and listening to why it is important to wash their hands after touching or handling dressings.

For the patient with MRSA, (either active infection or colonization) and other multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), there are many printed resources available free off of the Web. State Health Departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are all good resources. The state of Washington has a particularly good pamphlet available on their website entitled, “Living with MRSA.” This publication covers items such as cleaning, not sharing towels, disposing of dressings, etc. Pamphlets such as this can be printed and given to patients and their families. The same information is helpful to healthcare workers who continue to be worried about passing something on to their families.

Because we live in an era where MDROs are increasing in frequency–as well as is the public outcry about healthcare acquired infections–I believe nurses have not only a duty, but an opportunity to become known for their knowledge and ability to teach our patients how to exist in this new world without constant fear. While MDROs are real, are here, and are a serious health threat, nurses must use their knowledge to teach patients so it does not have to be a scarlet letter for them.

What other ways do you think nurses can help the public deal with issues such as MRSA?

Proven retention tips!

The simple act of giving THANK YOU notes to staff has proven to be a positive morale builder and an easy-to-use retention tool. Some managers have the “want to” but complain of “writer’s block.” Here are a few tips to get started!

  • Blue or black ink offers a more professional appearance than other colors
  • Begin with the recipient’s name.
  • Say Thank You.
  • Be specific about the behavior or action you’re recognizing:
    • “The extra hours you stayed over to help…”
    • “Your positive attitude in a stressful situation…”
    • “Your willingness to change your schedule…”
    • “Going the extra mile with [patient], [family], [coworker]”
  • Be sure to mention the positive impact of their behavior or action:
    • “Your work/dedication made this project a huge success”
    • “Your creative thinking saved our department time/resources”
    • “Your faithfulness to follow-through is a great example”
  • Connect their behavior to your organizational mission:
    • “Thanks to you, we’re sure to reach our goals!”
    • “Thanks to your efforts, we’re on our way to achieving _____”
  • Say Thank You again.
  • Close your note with a meaningful sign-off:
    • “Keep up the great work, it’s being noticed!”
    • Cheers!
    • Best Regards
  • Sign your name.
  • To add a special flair, consider including a small treat:
    • Peppermint patty or Junior Mints (You’re worth a mint!)
    • Roll of lifesaver candy (You’re a life-saver!)
    • $100,000 bar (Your efforts are priceless!)
    • Hershey’s Nugget (You’re such a treasure to have on staff!)
    • Almond Joy (It’s a joy to work alongside you!)
    • 3 Musketeers (3 cheers for you/your work)
    • Shoestring licorice (Great job in tying together that project!)
    • Payday bar (Your efforts will lead to great return for patients/our department/ [your organization])
    • M & M’s (Thanks for not melting under the pressure)

Safe Staffing Poll reflects significant need for nurses

As a nurse, the obstacles you face on a daily basis increase the difficulty of your job regardless of the pressure for you to deliver quality patient care. You might feel many of these obstacles are unnecessary and unfair. If the sufficient amount of nurses were employed at your facility– these obstacles might not even exist.

Have you ever wondered how staffing issues at your facility measure up to those around the country? Take a look at the results below from the American Nurses Association’s Safe Staffing Poll that more than 10,000 nurses participated in. The findings emphasize the ongoing need for adequate staffing.

  • 73% of nurses asked don’t believe the staffing on their unit or shift is sufficient.
  • 59.8% of those asked said they knew of someone who left direct care nursing due to concerns about safe staffing.
  • 51.2% of nurses believe the quality of nursing care has declined in their unit over the past year.
  • 48.2% would not feel confident having someone close to them receiving care in the facility where they work.
  • 46% of nurses that were considering leaving their position associated it with inadequate staffing.
  • 36% rarely or never take their full meal break.

Do these results surprise you?

Preparing your business plan

Every business plan begins with a brief executive summary introducing the key components of the project. It is knowing how to tailor it to your audience that will lead to the project’s success.

When writing the executive summary—or any presentation for that matter—learn who your audience is before you begin. Be sure to mold the presentation to your audience’s needs and desires. If you are speaking to the chief executive officer, make sure your presentation solves a problem that directly affects the hospital’s bottom line or addresses specific regulations such as those mandated by The Joint Commission or the state.

Other things to factor into your presentation are relativity and timing. For example, if your hospital chose to close its obstetrics business, then writing a business plan for an obstetrics clinic would be a waste of everyone’s time, plus you would seem uninformed about the hospital. Timing also is important. For example, if you are requesting money, be sure your request does not follow closely on the heels of layoffs or after the executives have just revealed less than satisfactory financial statements to staff.

How have you prepared for business plans?

Quick retention ideas!

This week’s retention ideas:

Suggest that your team create a basket filled with goodies for another department in the hospital-just to show your appreciation for something they did. Have your entire staff sign the card, they may add comments if they’d like to. The other staff will be shocked and amazed. Other benefits from this one act of kindness may include increased patience & respect between departments, adding value to others’ self-worth, and an improved work relationship!
[Some ideas: snacks such as microwave popcorn, pretzels, m&m’s or cheese crackers; mini cans of soda; a bottle of Excedrin and a bottle of hand lotion]

To increase staff participation and ownership in their staff meetings, post a blank agenda in their lounge a week ahead of each scheduled meeting. Staff can post questions, concerns, or desired discussions. You may even become aware of issues you previously didn’t know about.

Something to ponder this week: 10 years from now, what will your staff remember about you?

Learning a new definition of health

Starting next week, I will be carrying two courses at a time, and I am told it can be done. I have spoken to several other classmates who have management jobs, families, etc., and some of them are actually taking a bigger course load. I don’t think I will ever go there. Just the thought makes my critical thinking skills kick in and ask, “Are you nuts?!”

The three credit course I am in the midst of is related to public health nursing, and I know what you are thinking-the same thoughts I had as I poured over the course objectives. With a bottle of Phenergan at my side, I was ready for boredom and nausea. What I found was an inspiring faculty member whose pointed questions got me thinking about healthcare and how it is delivered to the patient, the family, and the community. The course puts an emphasis on the effects of prevention on public health and assessing the health care needs of communities. Think of all the times staff approach you whining on and on about non-compliant patients. The course delves into the compliance obstacles for some of our population, such as making bad choices in their lives.

The most important questions we had to ask ourselves is to define the word health: What does it mean to each of us? Now I am asking you for your definition of health, and also your staff’s definition. Mine is printed below:

Health: A state of wellness for that individual

I anxiously await my grade for my mid-term paper, which brought back memories of why I do not work the night shift anymore. My final paper is due mid-June and no, I have not started it yet. For my final exam, I have to find a grant available for a vulnerable population we identify in our mid-term paper. Can someone please help me? I feel ischemia creeping into my brain. What was it I identified? Can Phenergan ever be used to help brain perfusion? Hmmm…..

Budgeting for orientation, education, and training

Do you get a little stressed out when it comes time to budget for orientation, education, and training? You might find it helpful running through these questions beforehand:

1. How many orientees does the hospital expect this year?
2. How long is orientation for experienced hires? For new graduates?
3. How many education days does the hospital provide for each staff member?
4. How many mandatory classes does the hospital require each employee take?
5. How many outside training classes does the hospital pay for per employee each year?
6. Does your hospital pay for staff meeting attendance for days the employee is out?

How do you plan your budgets?