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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.

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

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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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.

Temp is not the same as terrible: Study finds supplemental nurses have no negative effect on quality

What do you do when you don’t have enough nurses on staff and don’t have the funds to hire additional staff? A possible solution is to hire temporary nurses to fill the gaps made by retiring staff, seasonal needs, or new medical programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services found that there are 88,495 temporary nurses working in the U.S., making up 3.4% of the total nursing population. Most temporary nurses are experienced travel nurses who work with a hospital on three- to six-month contracts before moving on.

Yet many nurse managers are leery of using temp nurses because of a longstanding stigma associating such nurses with lower quality care. This belief has been reinforced by media exposés on shoddy temp agencies skimping on background checks and allowing temps to jump from hospital to hospital to avoid misconduct charges. [more]

Are your nurses getting their flu shots?  

More healthcare personnel (HCP) are getting their flu shots, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, but there are still large gaps in immunization. During the 2014-2015 flu season, 77% of HCPs were vaccinated against the flu, a 14% increase from the previous season. The highest rates of immunization—at 90.4%–was  with HCPs working in hospitals.

While the increase is a positive step, it was also revealed that only 75% of nonclinical personnel had received the vaccine, including food service workers, laundry workers, janitors, housekeeping staff, and maintenance staff. The numbers were even lower for aides and assistants, with only 64% immunized. [more]

Rock Your Health: Living your true passion

If you have lost the passion as a nurse manager or nurse leader, it’s time to ask yourself whether you are willing to challenge the status quo to begin living your passion. Try the below exercise to identify what you love to do.

First, make a list of five things you love to do. Then prioritize your list.

Is priority number one your passion?

How much time do you devote to priority number one? How does it relate to the work you are doing? [more]

Rock Your Health: Tips for being a great manager

What kind of manager are you? What do others say about you? Here’s a list of qualities that I like in a manager.

M - Meets employees where they are and accepts them.

A - Assesses their attitude daily and keeps a positive attitude.

N - Notices greatness and share with others.

A - Ask questions rather than giving advice.

G - Greets everyone they see with a smile.

E - Engages employees in the decision making process.

R - Recognizes achievements and celebrates regularly.

Rock Your Health: Five steps to de-clutter your workspace and life

Clutter got you down? This five-step process will reduce your stress and open up space to allow new energy, ideas, and creativity to flow in. All you have to do is just do it! Enjoy the process and implement it with your nursing staff too.

1. Schedule a quarterly de-cluttering day on your calendar.

2. At the beginning of your de-cluttering day, do the following:
I. Set the intention of finishing the day with a neat clean office filled with open space
II. Commit to staying focused on the task at hand and don’t allow distractions
III. Put on some great music that gets you energized
IV. Put a large waste receptacle in your office to receive all the discarded stuff
V. Put a large box or bag in your office to receive items you will give away or donate [more]