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Think About It
A forum for discussion of the latest news and ideas in nursing management and healthcare.
Monday, July 27, 2015

I read an article this week on the essence of nursing that referred to nursing as a frequently forgotten art. Lost in the quagmire of documentation and technology is the act of caring; however, nursing is a profession built on caring. The everyday act of assisting patients and families; the hands-on daily routines that nurses carry out; and engagement at the point of care by individuals with the most influence on outcomes, patient safety, and patient satisfaction are what drive quality, ensuring that best practice is followed.

Although nurses haven’t forgotten the importance of the role they play in healthcare, we often wonder if the rest of the world has. Documentation requirements and regulations often overshadow, and even replace, valuable time at the bedside. Television and news headlines talk about what’s wrong with our healthcare system, but rarely mention what’s right. The vigilant, ever present art of nursing has been a constant since the days of Florence Nightingale. Do you think of what you do as an art?

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Monday, July 20, 2015

This week was a difficult one for Americans as yet another tragedy unfolded with the shootings in Chattanooga, Tenn. As a country, we’ve experienced far too many of these incidents. The thought of terrorism on our own soil rattles us all, but should also serve as a wake-up call for healthcare workers.

Safety in the workplace is essential, such as knowing what to do if you or your surroundings are under attack. The disaster may take the form of a shooting, a bomb threat, or a mass casualty incident. Do you know what to do? Are you familiar with your facility’s disaster plan? How acquainted are you with your surroundings? You can work in a place for many years and not really understand or be aware of where to go if under attack. How do you respond if a bomb threat is called? Who heads to the ED if a mass casualty incident is called?

Review your facility’s disaster plans, take drills seriously, and pay attention. Your life and your staff members' and patients’ lives may depend on it.

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Monday, July 13, 2015

I spent most of last week learning about the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. An increasing number of healthcare organizations are looking to the Baldrige Excellence Framework to improve practice. Healthcare has traditionally borrowed its process improvement techniques from other industries; Baldrige is one such example.

The focus is leader-driven, but the purpose is process improvement. How does your organization gather data, process data, form an action plan, and act on it? Many organizations are data rich, collecting results on performance-based outcomes and customer target groups. The question is: What does the organization do with those results? What’s the process and how does it translate into actionable and measurable changes?

Many of you collect data, but do you see changes as a result? Nurses will tell you that they document rounds, hand washing, and pressure ulcers; they hear about customer satisfaction, but they never see it “used” in a way that’s meaningful to them. I’ve often heard these processes referred to as busy work.

Learn more about the process improvement flow where you work. The purpose is to improve quality and affect practice by engaging those who use the processes. Get involved!

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Monday, July 06, 2015

I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July celebrating our great nation with friends and family. However, when planning your gathering, it’s important to remember that not all of our citizens can handle fireworks. Will you have a veteran at your celebration next year? For some, fireworks can trigger posttraumatic stress disorder and create anxiety and stress. This concern is increased as July 4th celebrations are elongated and fireworks are heard all week long. Remember to be sensitive to this and understand if they shy away from the festivities.

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Monday, June 29, 2015

I’ve been working with staff on a mentoring project this week. There’s a wealth of available research on mentoring programs for nurses. I spent some time combing through articles and one thing I continually noted is the topic of retention. It’s during that first 30 to 90 days that you retain your employee. We know this is the time to engage them. Reach out, be supportive, and provide a safe environment where needs can be expressed and feedback given and utilized.

New employee mentoring is far more than orientation--the process whereby you show employees how to do their job and where to find what they need. Mentoring gives them a safe haven to vent, provide and receive constructive criticism, and learn how to navigate their new career and work environment. This should include short- and long-term goal setting.

There also needs to be a plan for long-term follow-up, checking in with them in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and 1 year. Are we meeting your needs? What have we done well? What haven’t we done well? Was your orientation effective? Has your mentor been effective?

Hopefully, the mentor relationship is something that will be maintained and continue. Does your organization have a mentoring program?

Lisa Lockhart, MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Nurse Manager, Specialty Clinics
Alvin C. York VA Medical Center
Murfreesboro, Tenn.
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Nursing Management
“Think About It” is an extension of Nursing Management. Here, you can read and discuss professional information geared toward helping nurses excel as leaders. This blog tackles important topics without the worry of print publication deadlines!