This article describes one medical center's experience in using research to plan for nursing staff integration after hospital acquisition.
Resistance to new policies, procedures, and standards; passive acceptance of new leadership; limited support for management plans; and failure to integrate with new nursing units are common staff reactions after acquisitions. Little has been written regarding which key staff variables to assess after acquisitions and how to use this data to plan for change. Structural contingency and attribution theory were used to guide leadership staff's assessment of acquired staff attributes to determine their congruence with concepts valued by the acquiring organization.
Qualitative and quantitative data were collected using a survey method. All 141 registered nurses and licensed practical nurses of the acquired medical center received a mailed survey. Sixty-six completed surveys were returned through the U.S. mail. No identifying information was placed on the survey to assure anonymity.
The survey results described nurses' perceptions of the advantages, concerns, and suggestions for a smooth transition after acquisition. In addition, the results clarified that nurses in the newly acquired hospital preferred a shared governance structure (congruent with the acquiring medical center's values) and the nurses' perceived professional nursing autonomy was similar to that of nurses who worked at the acquiring medical center.
By sharing the findings, both staffs were sensitized to the similarities among the staff as well as to their differences. Transition strategies were planned to capitalize on this knowledge. This process may be useful for other nurse executives to replicate as they guide their organizations through similar transitions.
Vicki M. George, MSN, RN, Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive, Laura J. Burke, PhD, RN, Director of Nursing Research, St. Luke's Medical Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Beth L. Rodgers, PhD, RN, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, School of Nursing, and Research Associate, St. Luke's Medical Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.