IN TODAY'S ECONOMY, healthcare organizations are facing multiple challenges. They must meet several quality demands, hold down expenditures, and generate adequate revenue in a timely manner-all while providing high-quality, patient-centered care. Patients and their families prefer this care to be delivered in a state-of-the-art room with all the comforts of a hotel.
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Organizations can't afford to have staff members who aren't in tune with the demands of all key stakeholders. Because they're at the forefront, nurses must be knowledgeable partners who take pride in balancing their skills with the organization's needs to create a winning combination.
Nurses can make themselves more valuable to their healthcare organization in several ways. Being attentive to the following will help you stand out as a real asset in the healthcare business.
Be punctual. Arrive at work early enough to start your shift productively and on time. Arriving late causes the outgoing nurse to leave late, financially penalizing the organization. A nurse who can't routinely start or finish work on time may be viewed as disorganized.
Consider your attitude. A positive attitude sets the tone for the work day and the work space. A positive nurse with a can-do attitude sets up the organization for success. Customers can readily see and feel the positive energy the nurse displays and transmits. Likewise, negativity spreads infectiously, making a team less effective, presenting a poor public image, and decreasing job satisfaction.1,2
Document comprehensively, defensively, and frequently. Meticulous documentation is your best friend. Make certain records accurately reflect the patient's condition, diagnoses, and treatment goals as well as the care rendered and supplies used. Good documentation contributes to an accurately coded medical record and reduces reimbursement issues.3 Patient safety depends heavily on accurate documentation. Healthcare institutions depend on nursing documentation to provide protection from malpractice lawsuits.
Be familiar with The Joint Commission's core measures. Understand what your organization is required to measure and your role in meeting goals. Unmet goals often translate into decreased reimbursement. Nurses who know what's being measured and consistently do their part are very valuable to an organization. Uninterrupted attention to these standards improves patient care. Publicly reporting this data can improve the facility's reputation.
Participate in trials and committees sponsored by your organization. Product trials, which help determine the best quality and value, are necessary for financial accountability. Committees can improve processes or decrease waste. Nurses who don't participate in these efforts may be seen as just fulfilling the minimum requirements of the job. Volunteering to participate will demonstrate you're a vested partner in the organization.
Seek certifications. Every healthcare organization loves to boast of having specialists on board. The certification process challenges you to become an expert in your field by staying current with best practices and teaching others. Many organizations will assist with the costs associated with a certification. State boards of nursing and professional organizations have information on the many certifications available. (See "Gaining Certification" on page 10.)
Employ a personal destress program. Every nurse should plan time to relax. Nursing, which is readily recognized as a high-stress occupation, is among 40 occupations with a higher-than-expected incidence of stress-related disorders.4,5 In a profession that constantly prioritizes the needs of others above personal needs, you must be responsible for your own mental and physical health. Great ways to destress include:6,7
* keeping a positive outlook
* eating right and exercising
* taking vacations
* making time for your family, hobbies, and pets.
See also "Striving for Work-Life Balance" on page 25.
Market your organization. Finally, every healthcare organization needs engaged nurses who represent the organization well. Seek professional relationships with organizations that share your personal values for healthcare. Prepare something positive to say about your organization and its contribution to the community when you're recognized in public as its employee.
Clearly, nurses are key players in health-care organizations. Nurses with the skills outlined here who are engaged as partners are vital to the health of an organization. Realize the value you add, understand the organization's needs, and meet the challenges to prove you're an essential partner and an asset the organization can't afford to be without.