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Rock Your Health: Celebrate Spring!

S – Start a new project that is simple to accomplish but yields great rewards

P – Play often  – schedule “play” time or free time routinely on your calendar

R – Rejoice in the feeling of longer days with more time to enjoy life

I – Improve your attitude and let go of any leftover winter grumpies

N – Notice the good in others and say something about it to them

G – Gather co-workers regularly for fun events

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”  — Robin Williams

Email me at carol@carolebert.com for more ideas on how to bring joy into your life and your work.

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.

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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Trust your nurses, everyone else does

Nursing has once again been named the most trustworthy profession in America. In their annual, “Honesty and Ethics rankings,” Gallup Polls found that 85% of Americans rated nurses’ honesty and trustworthiness “very high,” or “high.” The runner-up, pharmacists, only received a “highly trusted” score of 68%.

As a manager, you should take confidence in the fact that the general population places more trust in your nursing staff than they do physicians (67%), high school teachers (60%), police officers (56%), or even clergy (45%).

“It’s essential that we leverage this trust to lead and implement change in the healthcare system,” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA) in response to the poll, “Hospitals, healthcare systems and other organizations are lacking an important perspective and can’t make fully competent decisions if they don’t have registered nurses at the board table or in the C-Suite.  That’s why ANA is a member of the Nurses on Boards Coalition, working to place 10,000 nurses on boards by 2020.”

This is the 14th year straight that nursing has taken the top spot since being added to the list in 1999. The only thing that’s ever interrupted nursing’s winning streak was the one-time inclusion of firefighters to the list in the wake of 9/11.

Side note: it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that car salespeople (8%), telemarketers (8%), Congress members (8%), and lobbyists (7%) were voted the least trusted professions in the country.

Free tool: Build nursing team self-esteem

As promised in last week’s post, Try This: Build nursing team self-esteem, downloadicon2the exercise that Kathleen Bartholomew uses to encourage nurses’ self-esteem has been posted to our Tools Library.

To download the Hierarchy of Voice tool, click here.

 


Excerpted from Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility, Second Edition, by Kathleen Bartholomew

10 ways to be healthy in retirement

Are you a nurse who is close to retirement or considering whether early retirement is an option? Here are some ways nurses can retire well.

R – Rejuvenate yourself with rest whenever possible. We are so busy all the time that now is the time to fill some of your free time by winding down and resting. Rest becomes more important as you age (whether you want to admit that or not) so fit in those naps to restore your energy so you can keep up the pace of living the good life. Boomers always have a lot to do and need energy to do it, so try to work it in. People who take naps live longer too!

E – Enjoy the company of other retiring Boomers. Now we have time to reconnect with old friends from our early days. Remember those school mates you grew up with? It’s never too late to reconnect and reconstruct those old memories.

T – Travel to the places you’ve always dreamed of. What are you waiting for? The time is now. If money is no object, just go. If it is an issue, get creative. Teach classes on board ship and get your trip paid for (I did this several times!) Organize a trip to a place you want to go and be the tour guide. Volunteer to be a tour guide for trips that someone else is organizing. Exchange houses with a family from another country you want to visit. There is always a way to get what you want if you apply some creativity to the process. [more]

10 steps for training your brain to get what you want

We have power within ourselves that we often either don’t know about, have little faith in, disregard, or just don’t trust. But if we understand that we can change our situations through education, opening up to newness, or practicing a different perspective or thought pattern, life can be different. And if you believe, you can conceive!

I’m a fan of the Law of Attraction and have had some success, but you don’t have to be a follower of the Law of Attraction to bring what you want and need into your life. Here are 10 simple tips you can use to retrain your brain to open the door to attracting positive outcomes.

A – Allow yourself to be open to the possibility that you can have whatever you put your mind to

T – Think positive thoughts [more]

Happy Nurses Week: A thank you to our favorite nurses

Is there any doubt that nurses heal the spirit, as well as HappyNursesWeekthe body?

The stories in The Boston Globe annual “Patients Salute Their Nurses” piece offer an inspiring and humbling testament to all the nursing profession can be.

In 400 thank-you letters from grateful patients, family members, and colleagues, Boston’s nurses received personal acknowledgment and messages of love inspired by their deep commitment to the profession and their patients.

Here are snippets from some of my favorite letters:

Diane goes above and beyond, treating me with dignity and respect, even calling me weekly to check on my weight and well-being. Like a friendly drill sergeant, she reminds me to keep my weight down and to pay attention to what I eat.

Joe provided intense, meticulous, and sensitive care not only to Mike, but also to his extended family. Joe’s quiet and steady presence gave us hope and strength when we needed it most. Mike did not make it through the night, but the blow of his passing was softened by the gift of time that Joe made possible.
[more]

Nurses: What inspires you to reach for excellence?

Nurses Week is a good time to reflect on what sets the nursing profession apart from so many others. Nurses have a reverence for the work (however flawed circumstances may be on a day-to-day basis), and a commitment to bettering the “caring profession.”

This Nurses Week, please give some thought to what inspires Elizabeth Kenney2you to reach for excellence. Submit your favorite inspirational quotes and sayings in the comments box below and we will share them so all can be uplifted. We’ll also compile the best into a resource to sustain you on the days when you face challenges.

Here’s a quote from an amazing Australian nurse, Elizabeth Kenney. In the 1930’s, she pioneered the use of physical therapy, rather than immobilization, for polio victims.

 

It is better to be a lion for a day
than a sheep all your life.

             —Elizabeth Kenney, 1880-1952

 

NOTE⇒ You can use the 20% Nurses Week discount offered in this post through 5/12/2015.

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.