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Focusing on core values, educational excellence

Murray, Kathleen MSN, RN, CNA

doi: 10.1097/01.NUMA.0000406575.88837.80
Department: Leadership Q&A

Vice President of Patient Care Services, Baptist Medical Center Downtown, Jacksonville, Fla.

Q Our health system has gotten very large because we recently merged with several other organizations. I'm concerned we're losing focus on our core values. How does a large organization remain caring in a big corporate structure?

As health systems grow, individual facilities may have difficulty holding onto the core values that they feel have made them successful in the first place. During these turbulent times in which change is occurring, leaders will need to go above and beyond in keeping their pulse on the organization by frequently asking the staff: What's working well? What isn't working well? And what should we change? Make sure that your organization's leadership team hasn't moved away from engaging all employees and is communicating that, although things may change, change is good.

Next you'll need to revisit and evaluate what defines your core values and caring environment by honestly answering the following questions:



  • Can all employees within your organization articulate your core values and caring environment? Develop an anonymous survey tool that the staff can easily access either by posting specific questions in an electronic format or through an opinion survey software program. You'll need to stress to employees that you want their honest feedback and that their responses are truly anonymous.
  • How are your core values and caring environment different from the corporate structure? This is a leadership team evaluation; all participants should be honest and clearly identify any differences they've found between the two.

When you compare and contrast your organization's core values with the corporate core values, hopefully you'll find that your organization is defined by openness, trust, traditions, and behaviors. The point here is that although the system has grown, it's clearly up to the leadership team to revitalize the organization's core values and caring environment. As a leader, you can only benefit from knowing and embracing your distinctiveness and use it as an asset to sustain—and possibly enhance—your core values and caring environment, which will lead to an exemplary organization that will be recognized throughout the health system.

Q One of the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine's Future of Nursing report is that we should double the number of doctoral nurses by 2020. Is this even feasible?

To prepare for doubling the number of doctoral nurses by the end of the decade, several initiatives are being implemented, including:

  • increasing the number of doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing DNP fact sheet, there are 153 DNP programs that are currently enrolling students at schools of nursing nationwide and an additional 160 DNP programs that are in the planning stages. DNP programs are now available in 37 states, plus the District of Columbia.1
  • providing online access. Many of the DNP programs are available online and offer the same course content that a campus-based program would offer. Some of the benefits of online learning include allowing for flexibility with course work participation and the ability to continue working while completing one's education.
  • securing funding. Many DNP programs are providing monies to qualified students through regular loans, the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP), loan forgiveness, and scholarships (traineeships). For example, the NFLP is a federally funded loan program administered by the Bureau of Health Professions, Health Resources and Service Administration. The purpose of the NFLP is to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty by providing loans to students enrolled in an advanced education nursing program.

Steps are clearly underway to support the doubling of the number of nurses with doctoral degrees in the next 10 years because of concerted efforts from key stakeholders to address all barriers that have previously prevented nurses from obtaining doctoral degrees.

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1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Fact sheet: the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) .
© 2011 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.