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Tips for recommitting to nursing in the new year

The new year is often a time for retrospection and reflection, especially when it comes to your career. If you’re starting to feel burnt out on nursing but not quite ready for a career change, here is some advice to freshen things up in the new year.

  • Reflect on your past: Sometimes the best way to go forward is to look back. What drew you to nursing in the first place? Why was a career in nursing right for you? Think about the positive experiences you’ve had as a nurse that reaffirmed your career goals. Treat your next shift like it’s your first day; what excites you? What makes you nervous? Sometimes asking these questions can reinvigorate how you approach your work.
  • Connect (and disconnect): If you’re feeling down about your job, sometimes the best solution is to ask for help. Reach out to your peers and develop a support system to help yourself and others. If you think there’s something that could make you happier at work, talk to your managers about it; sometimes a small change can have a profound effect.

    It’s also important to let go sometimes. Being a caregiver, interacting with patients at some of the worst times in their lives can negatively impact your outlook and make your job even more difficult. Try to focus on the good you’ve done for patients and don’t take it personally when a patient struggles or suffers.

  • Commit to the new: Even though it doesn’t always feel like it, taking on new challenges can be a great way to energize your career. Seek out new experiences and opportunities; take the frustrations of the day and channel it toward learning a new skill or pursuing additional training options. Reflecting on your weaknesses can be difficult at first, but identifying them and working towards improvement can be satisfying and build you confidence.

    Another great way to embrace the new is working with nursing students or new nurses. They bring energy and enthusiasm to the job, and becoming a preceptor or informal mentor can be a great way to grow your own enthusiasm while furthering your career.

For more articles about avoiding burnout and developing your career, check out the Health & Wellness section of the Strategies for Nurse Managers Reading Room!

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?

House calls can benefit patients and cut costs

Two of the lasting images of early healthcare professionals is the doctor with their big bag making house calls and a midwife rushing to a family home to facilitate a birth. As healthcare has advanced, we’ve moved away from this home-based model toward the consolidated approach of the modern hospital. However, some practices have returned to house calls, with some positive results.

Independence at Home, a program created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), seeks to identify patients that would benefit from homecare or cannot be helped in a hospital setting. The project sends mobile interdisciplinary healthcare teams, lead by physicians and nurse practitioner, out to the homes of these patients and provide care.

According to a recent Medscape article, the program reports a few different benefits. The patients receive more attention and care from providers, and the setting can foster trust between patient and provider. Hospitals and nursing homes can be difficult places for many patients, and they would prefer to get treatment in their homes. Terminal patients particularly benefit from this; as one provider notes, hospitals are not where people want to die.

The providers benefit from the more personalized patient relationship as well, but there are also financial incentives for homecare. CMS reports that they saved $25 million by using this system and $11.7 million of that went back to the providers. Because the system targets some of the most expensive Medicare patients, hospitals can save a lot by providing in-home care in this system. In addition to the CMS program, Veterans Affairs Medical Centers report that providing home care for some of their patients cost 12% less than standard care.

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

Newly promoted leaders need support too

Many companies have clear guidelines for onboarding a new hire; they often have formal training, manuals, and extra resources to help them adjust to their new responsibilities. However, many nurse leaders are promoted from within, and their training path is often less clear. As a new study suggests, the training process for internal promotions is often inadequate, and internal hires require just as much support as external ones.

Michael Watkins wrote in the Harvard Business Review about this issue, and coined the term “inboarding” to describe the process of training internal hires for their new position. About two thirds of the new hires in his study were internal; 70% of them said that their transition was as difficult as joining a new company, and 35% found the transition more difficult. This results in unnecessary failures and difficulties for the organization.

Watkins identifies the lack of support given to inboarding as one of the main reasons for this disparity. So how can an organization make inboarding easier? To start, leaders should adopt a common methodology when approaching new hires. This includes using the same framework and tools for all leadership transitions. Watkins also suggests performing a risk assessment for transitions: identify the potential difficulties (such as relocation, new business divisions, or shifts in work culture) and provide additional support for those risks. This might sound simple, but changing an organization’s culture can be difficult and the first step is identifying that internal hires need the same support as external hires.

Did you receive formal training when you got your first leadership position? Did you feel prepared for your new responsibilities? Let us know in the comments, or take our Strategies for Nurse Managers Poll.

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.

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.