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Are you so busy caring for your patients that you rarely give a thought to the financial side of your work? Some readers responding to the Nursing2005 annual salary survey pointed out that not knowing enough about the business end of nursing can stifle career growth and salary advancement. (The salary survey report starts on page 46.)
These readers said that nurses with business savvy understand their value to their employers and know how to negotiate salary increases. Some reported that their facilities offer financial incentives for meeting budgets and participating in cost-saving activities.
Health care is big business, accounting for 14.6% of the gross domestic product in the United States. Each health care facility has a business plan. Unit staffing, equipment and supplies, and your salary are a big chunk of it. In fact, the nursing department is the biggest part of the budget in most hospitals.
Smart nursing leaders realize that informed and involved staff can draw on their day-to-day experience to make good decisions about how to spend money. Empowering staff nurses improves patient care, gives nurses a positive feeling about their work, and enhances staff retention.
Involving staff nurses in management and decision making (shared governance) also helps first-line managers and administrators achieve their own goals. Those who aren't open to involving staff in the business of the nursing unit are ignoring a great problem-solving resource.
You don't have to be a nurse-manager to think like one. To learn more about the business end of the unit, brush up on general business principles, such as team building and negotiating. (You'll find tips for negotiating a raise on page 50.) Explore health care costs and government spending policies by reading journals such as Health Affairs. Attend continuing-education conferences and read literature for nurse-managers. Then think about heading a committee that looks into costs and budget decisions that affect your nursing practice.
In today's world, you can't provide quality patient care without considering how health care is financed-but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Get involved with the business end of nursing practice and work to funnel available resources where they're needed most. By learning how to work the system, you can improve patient care and advance your own career.
Cheryl L. Mee, RN,BC, CMSRN, MSN
We at Nursing2005 are deeply saddened by Hurricane Katrina's devastation. We're pleased that the Nursing2005 Foundation, an organization we support, has established a fund to aid nursing students and faculty who've been affected. Go to page 14 of this issue and to http://www.nursing2005foundation.org to learn more.
Anderson GF, et al. Health spending in the United States and the rest of the industrialized world. Health Affairs. 24(4):903-914, July/August 2005.
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