1. Kitchens, Jennifer L. MSN, RN, CVRN
  2. Rees, Eldonna BSN, RN
  3. Fulton, Janet S. PhD, RN

Article Content


The clinical nurse specialist (CNS) mentored a unit-based staff nurse as Champion of Performance Improvement through nursing's shared governance council.



Within shared governance, nurses are empowered to make decisions about practice, quality, and development. A staff nurse, acting as a unit based champion, can role-model effective decision making affecting clinical practice and patient outcomes. Performance improvement is one area that benefits from staff nurse participation. CNSs can be instrumental in developing staff nurse knowledge of and skills in performance improvement.



The CNS identified within the shared governance structure at a large, public hospital that identification and development of a unit-based champion was one method to advance practice. A staff nurse, serving as a unit champion, is expected to act as a practice leader for improved patient outcomes. Performance improvement was an area selected for the unit champion initiative.



The CNS initiated a mentored experience for a medical-surgical staff nurse Champion for Performance Improvement Teaching and coaching were the primary strategies. The staff nurse champion learned to describe problem significance, review evidence, identify needed changes, establish goals aligned with organizational mission, determine methods for evaluation, and mobilize resources. Expected outcomes for the mentored experience included collecting and analyzing data, collaborating to identify resources, designing strategies to improve outcomes, using feedback to reinforce practice changes, and disseminating results of performance improvement to stakeholders at unit and organizational levels.



Three performance improvement projects were implemented by the staff nurse Champion for Performance Improvement under the mentorship of the CNS. The staff nurse evaluated the mentored experience as most valuable in developing knowledge and skills for conducting unit based performance improvement. The shared governance structure was pleased with the mentoring experience provided by the CNS.



CNS mentorship of a staff nurse was a successful strategy for developing a Champion for Performance Improvement.



CNS competencies in teaching, coaching, and mentoring can support the professional development of a staff nurse and can contribute to overall shared governance initiatives to empower nursing staff.


Section Description

The 2010 National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) Annual National Conference is planned for Portland, Oregon, on March 3 to 6. More than 375 clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), graduate faculty, nurse administrators, nurse researchers, and graduate students are expected to attend. This year's theme, "CNS as Internal Consultant: Influencing Local to Global Systems," demonstrates the breadth and depth of CNS practice and leadership at multiple levels in organizations and on healthcare.


A total of 142 abstracts were submitted for review, and 58 (not including student posters) were selected for either podium or poster presentations. Again, this year, there is a CNS student poster session; student abstracts will appear in a later issue of the journal. The abstracts addressed CNS practice in all 3 practice domains as described in the Spheres of Influence Framework for CNS Practice. Abstracts emphasized patient safety and quality care outcomes, leadership, CNS education, evidence-based practice, and new ways to shape CNS practice. Topics include CNS work activities incorporated into the 3 Spheres of Influence, the role of the CNS in developing clinical inquiry skills among staff nurses, use of simulation technology, strategies to maintain clinical excellence, the role of the CNS in National Database for Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) activities, and many new and thoughtful ideas to support CNS education, practice, and research. Collectively, the abstracts represent the breadth, depth, and richness of the CNS's contribution to the well-being of individuals, families, and communities, as well as contributing to the advancement of the nursing profession.


The conference abstracts are published to share new knowledge with those unable to attend the conference. As you read each abstract, appreciate the intellectual talent and clinical scholarship of your CNS colleagues who are advancing the practice of nursing and contributing to the health of society through improved outcomes for patients and healthcare organizations. We encourage you to contact individual presenters to network, collaborate, consult, or share your thoughts and ideas on the conference topics.


Watch for next year's call for abstracts and consider submitting for presentation at the next NACNS annual conference scheduled for March 9-12, 2011, in Baltimore, Maryland.