For those of us in the United States, November is a month we reflect on our lives and give thanks for what we have. Many may be struggling this year to find things to be thankful for. In our nursing profession, enrollment in undergraduate and graduate programs declined for the first time in years, and nurses and other healthcare professionals are striking or walking away due to challenging work conditions.
Despite all of this, I’ve witnessed some amazing bright spots too. The past few months, I’ve been attending conferences and I’ve seen a renewed spirit demonstrated by those attending and presenting. They genuinely love our profession and are doing their very best to support it. These remarkable nurses are rising to the challenges of our times by responding with innovation and leadership to support our communities and advance the nursing profession.
Communication and collaboration driving change
At the ANCC Magnet/Pathway Conference in October, I had the opportunity to hear some great examples of practice innovations being used to improve patient outcomes. What all these organizations had in common was an established dynamic of true collaboration between leadership, professional development, and frontline nursing staff to address the issues that would make the greatest impact on patient outcomes. The leadership empowered the nurses at the bedside to use evidence-based practice and quality improvement principles to institute change that really made a difference for those in practice and their patients.
It’s clear that many healthcare systems are listening to nurses at the bedside and giving nurses a seat at the table. It’s important that nurses at all levels take that seat and make sure our voices are heard. And even if not offered a seat, we must be willing to stand up, take responsibility, and articulate why having us at the table is beneficial to all. That means being prepared to speak about challenges and offer collaborative, innovative solutions.
Continued support of communities
Nurses are finding new, innovative ways to deliver care to those in need outside of the four walls of their institutions. Nurses and nurse practitioners are taking the lead in community centers, clinics, schools, and home and public health departments. They are bringing healthcare to rural areas where care is not easily accessible and providing direct care while also educating the public, promoting healthy lifestyles, and instituting wellness programs.
Innovation and enthusiasm leading change to support new nurses
Some healthcare organizations are stepping up by investing in less experienced nurses by initiating orientation units where preceptors and resource nurses can provide needed support. Other healthcare systems are starting safety-net programs where they employ experienced nurses to float around the hospital and provide ad hoc support to the less experienced nurses completing their orientation or nurse residency programs. Other hospitals are starting virtual resource nurse programs where an experienced nurse is a phone call or link away to support those at the bedside with their questions.
Amidst all the challenges in our profession, nurses are stepping up and finding innovative ways to improve practice so quality outcomes can be achieved. This November, I am thankful for the opportunity to attend these conferences, learn how these outstanding organizations are transforming care through innovation, and witness how enthusiastic nurses take charge and prepare for our future.