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Improving the professional image of nursing

As HCPro continues its countdown to Nurses’ Week, our focus moves to improving the image of nursing. Bedside caregivers are at the forefront of healthcare every day as they care for patients and families and interact with physicians and peers. So isn’t it time to set high standards and improve the image of nursing?

During your Nurses’ Week preparation, put celebrating the profession on your list of activities and empower your nurses to take control of their image. [more]

Poll taps into time frames for new grad orientation

Orientation is a critical, and often stressful, period for new graduate nurses. Adapting to a new facility, trying to remember everything from nursing school, and applying the knowledge learned in nursing school at the bedside are all tall tasks in themselves. But a supportive work environment, and some time, can ease the transition for new grads. [more]

Survey staff to shape up the nursing image

All nurse managers desire to work in facilities which demonstrate a positive, professional image of nursing. But many barriers exist—often differing within each facility—to cultivating such an environment.

However, nurse managers can work to improve the nursing image by reviewing staff perspectives on the unit’s nursing image. Performing some inventory will allow you and your staff to identify any problem areas and discuss how to resolve them. Consider sending out a survey asking your nurses to rate the image of their peers on a scale from 1-10. [more]

Dealing with verbal abuse

It’s inevitable that some of your decisions will be unpopular. However, you are not a manager to win a popularity contest. If you made the decision with thought and consideration and not as a reaction to an event, it should be understood and accepted in time. If you make staff understand the rationale behind and unpopular decision (or any decision, for that matter), they will be more likely to keep rowing in the same direction as you are. [more]

Improve the nursing image with professional communication

by Kathleen Bartholomew, RC, RN, MN

Every interaction that we have with another person at work is a communication. Even if
we never speak, our body language portrays whether we are interested or disengaged,
caring or aloof. More than anything we communicate what we think of ourselves. [more]

Get your facility into debate mode

p>by Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN

Most of your staff members are probably keeping an ear tuned to the presidential prospects for the upcoming election. With this is mind, many will be listening to and watching the debates between both the presidential and vice presidential hopefuls. This is a wonderful opportunity for nurse leaders to take advantage of the debate and relate to the workplace.

The structured debate can serve as a springboard for initiating change, implementing evidence-based practices, or even defining unacceptable behaviors for a department. When staff have a chance to hear the pros and cons, as they do in a debate, they learn how to validate their needs. A controlled, professional, yet fun, environment of presenting both sides is what the debate process has to offer. Examples include debating changes in holiday scheduling, or how patients are assigned.

To get into the debate mode, start with these steps:

1. Provide the staff a list of current practice issues and have them vote on the two issues of greatest concern to them
2. Post the date you will be holding the debate (in place of a staff meeting) in emails, on bulletin boards, or both
3. Invite someone from fiscal services and administration to evaluate the debate
4. Display a poster of five keys to effective debates for one week
5. Post Web sites where staff can learn more about debating, such as www.articleinsider.com
6. Have staff select one peer who will oversee/facilitate the debate and develop the ground rules for the debate
7. Provide a debate worksheet to get them started

What are some other ways to engage staff in the debate process?</p

Benchmarking report explores state of nurse-physician collaboration

The nurse-physician dynamic has been found to shape various aspects of the healthcare environment. Research has uncovered that nurse-physician collaboration can affect patient care, patient satisfaction, hospital costs, and turnover. But as a nurse, how do you see it affecting your facility?

HCPro, Inc., recently surveyed 67 nursing professionals in the healthcare industry about the issue of nurse-physician collaboration within facilities of various sizes and settings nationwide. Participants responded to questions about nurse-physician collaboration barriers, strategies facilities are using to improve nurse-physician collaboration, and the influence poor nurse-physician collaboration has on stress. Take a look at some of the results:

  • 91% of nurses that rated their facility as having “excellent” nurse-physician communication came from organizations that employed fewer than 100 nurses
  • 82% of nurses surveyed said positive steps have been taken at their facilities to create work environments with better nurse-physician collaboration
  • 80% of nurses said poor nurse-physician collaboration brought stress to the workplace
  • 75% of nurses admitted to knowing other nurses who have vacated positions due to poor nurse-physician collaboration

What are your first impressions of these results?

View the rest of the results from this benchmarking report

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?

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?

MRSA me, what are we to do?

By Sheila Gerald, RN, CIC, CLNC

The average person trembles with fear when he or she hears the word staph or MRSA, and most healthcare workers are sick of multiple drug resistant organisms (MDROs) making their daily service more challenging.

Many infection control experts will agree that MDROs have rocked our world for the past 10 years in dramatic ways. We now have to use resources for increased compliance monitoring, surveillance, and tracking. And let’s not forget about the increased need for education. How many times must we say “gel in-gel out,” “glove/gown each time,” only to get those phone calls over and over reporting it not being done?

I have a question: Why haven’t hospitals addressed this problem? Why not simply tell the public, “No, you can’t bring that child in to visit,” “No, you can’t go in the room without a gown/glove/mask,” “No, you can’t come in if you are sick,” and “No, we won’t do your surgery until you have your blood sugar under control, have lost weight, and have stopped smoking,” which all increase the risk of a poor outcome. Can you imagine the outcry from the public if we put our foot down, instead of catering to the general public’s desire to be in control?

Would we truly see some dramatic improvements if the Healthcare Infection Control Practice Advisory Committee (HICPAC) came out with stern guidelines making contact precautions the new standard precautions? After all, when you start checking for colonization you wind up putting the majority of people who are admitted under the contact precautions umbrella. How much would we save in resources if we just put all admitted patients in precautions and forego the screening? Yes, the studies have shown these people get seen less often, but what if it became the norm to gown and glove upon entry to every room and continue the hand hygiene before and after contact with the environment of care?

I think it is time to change our norm and stop whining and moaning about it. Our germ cheese has been moved and we have hemmed and hawed long enough! If we are to survive and if we expect our patients to survive this germ war, we must change the way we practice healthcare.

How do you feel about current infection control practices? What changes would you make?