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Happy Nurses Week, everyone! It's the time of year to honor the contributions nurses make to patient care and to society as a whole. As I reflected on the value that nurses bring to the healthcare system, my thoughts turned to the question of what would offer lasting value to nurses. Beyond the celebrations, giveaways, and expressions of gratitude often part of Nurses Week festivities, I considered the actions that would make a real difference.
One of the greatest opportunities we have is to start fixing the barriers and inefficiencies that get in the way of delivering safe and effective nursing care. To be clear, I'm talking about the myriad irritating things that take the joy out of a day and cause nurses to feel frustrated and exasperated, like having to complete mounds of redundant paperwork or electronic forms that no one actually reads. So many of these issues are -recurrent and rooted in how effectively systems are designed to support care (or not).
Although it sounds as if I'm asking the impossible, I think there's much hope-but the solutions require transforming the way we currently do business and individually engaging in problem resolution. Albert Einstein observed that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. We need to stop doing the same thing if it's no longer working for us!
Problem solving begins with taking an active inventory of the work-arounds and non-value-added activities that increase effort but have no real redeeming qualities. Is everyone doing something because it's always been done that way? Maybe now there's a better, simpler way. Are any of your policies, procedures, or rules obsolete or just plain dumb? Do they stand in the way of getting work done or sap enthusiasm for the job? Consider how they could be changed or eliminated.
Start by investigating best-practice approaches. Although the literature is one place to look, there's power in talking to nurses from other units, other hospitals, or even other countries for their insights and strategies. You might also find answers in industries outside of healthcare as well as technology solutions. Working in partnership with nursing leadership and other key stakeholders is key to collaborative process improvement. To celebrate this Nurses Week, let the transformation begin!
Until next time-
Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, RN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM
Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2011 Vice President: Emergency and Trauma Services, Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.
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