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DiversityNursing Blog

Leading the Way: Nurses recognized for improving health care

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 11:10 AM


Wherever health care is provided, a nurse is likely to be there.

Nurses_Lizeth_Martinez-DP-1.jpgTuesday marks the start of National Nurses Week, an annual opportunity for communities to recognize the full range of nurses’ contributions. This year’s theme, “Nurses: Leading the Way,” recognizes nurses as leaders in the field.

Nurses are being honored as leaders who improve the quality of health care. Nurses practice in diverse roles, such as clinicians, administrators, researchers, educators and policymakers.

Lizeth Martinez, a registered nurse at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, said every nurse is different.

“We each have our scope of practice and me, personally, I always try to be there for my patients,” Martinez said. “From what I have seen I am very fortunate to work with the people that I do.”

Martinez, who was born and raised in Brownsville, is currently working on a graduate degree in nursing at the University of Texas at Brownsville and should be finished by next year.

She said that in the two and half years that she’s been a nurse she has gained a lot of experience.

“I love being a nurse,” Martinez said. “As nurses we care in a different way, in a compassionate and holistic manner promoting health and healing.”

However, being a nurse is not without its challenges, said Martinez, who mainly works with wound care and diabetes patients.

“I think the most challenging thing about being a nurse is the emotional aspect because we see a lot of patients that are chronically ill,” Martinez said.

Garett Byrd, a pediatric registered nurse at Harlingen Medical Center, has worked in the nursing field for nine years.

Byrd, whose parents were nurses, said the profession has changed a lot during that time.

“Over the years I’ve noticed an increase in accountability and technology,” Byrd said. “The nursing profession has moved towards a more evidenced based practice. Were not doing things just to do them, were researching and going by the research.”

He said the community should keep one thing in mind.

“The community needs to remember that we’re human beings too, and we’re here because we care,” Byrd said.

Both Martinez and Byrd said nurses are leaders in the health profession.

“I think we are leaders. The profession is so amazing because there are so many things you can do, so many fields you can go into,” Martinez said.

“As nurses were able to provide and coordinate care and think those aspects of leadership position.”

Karen A. Daley, president of the American Nurses Association, agrees.Nurses_Garett_Byrd_DSC05075.jpg

“All nurses are leaders, whether they are in direct patient care, administrative roles or meeting consumers’ needs in new roles such as care coordinators or wellness coaches,” Daley said.

“This week, we acknowledge nurses’ vast contributions and how they are leading the way in improving health care and ultimately, the health of the nation.”

Nurses are leading initiatives to increase access to care and improve outcomes by focusing on primary care, prevention, wellness, chronic disease management and the coordination of care among health care providers and settings.

These are areas in which nurses excel given their education and experience, the ANA said.

According to the ANA, nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession, with nearly 3 million employed professionals and is projected to grow faster than all other occupations.

The federal government projects that more than 1 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2022 to fill new jobs and replace nurses who leave the profession.

Demand for nursing care will grow rapidly as Baby Boomers swell Medicare enrollment by 50 percent by 2025 and millions of individuals obtain new or better access to care under the health care reform law, the ANA said.

Source: Valley Morning Star 

Topics: National Nurses Week, healthcare, nurses, improve

IOM, RWJF leaders assess progress since 'Future of Nursing' report

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Oct 25, 2013 @ 11:24 AM

Despite “measurable progress” in the three years since the release of the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report on the future of nursing, more work remains “to fully realize the potential of qualified nurses to improve health and provide care to people who need it.”

That assessment is part of a commentary by Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the IOM, and Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, on the aftermath of the report.

“The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” was released Oct. 5, 2010, by the IOM with the support of RWJF. It provided a blueprint for transforming the nursing profession to “respond effectively to rapidly changing healthcare settings and an evolving healthcare system,” according to a report brief.

The key recommendations: allow nurses to practice to the full scope of their education and training, provide opportunities for nurses to serve as healthcare leaders and increase the proportion of nurses with a BSN to 80% by 2020. Following the report, RWJF and AARP formed the Campaign for Action to implement the report’s recommendations at the state level. 

Regarding scope of practice for advanced practice registered nurses, Fineberg and Lavizzo-Mourey wrote that 43 state action coalitions have prioritized initiatives to remove scope-of-practice regulations that prevent APRNs from delivering care to the full extent of their education and training. Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland , Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and Rhode Island have removed barriers to APRN practice and care, and 15 states introduced bills this year to remove physician supervision requirements that can hinder APRN care.

Regarding education and training, the proportion of employed nurses with a BSN or higher degree was 49% in 2010 and 50% in 2011. “Progress is likely to accelerate in the years to come,” Fineberg and Lavizzo-Mourey wrote, “because between 2011 and 2012 along there was a 22.2% increase in enrollment in RN-to-BSN programs and a 3.5% increase in enrollment in entry-level BSN programs.” The authors also noted a recent increase in the number of students enrolled in nursing doctorate programs. Of the 51 action coalitions, 48 have worked to enable seamless academic progression in nursing.

The authors noted that the influence of the campaign has paid off with a $200 million Medicare initiative to support the training of APRNs at hospital systems in Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Regarding nurse leadership, Fineberg and Lavizzo-Mourey wrote, the “Campaign for Action has tapped established and emerging nurse leaders across the nation and is working to provide them with opportunities for networking, skills development and mentoring. A key strategy is to advocate for more nurses to serve on hospital boards.” 

Full commentary:

Campaign for Action:

“Future of Nursing” report:

Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration:


Topics: Institute of Medicine, scope of practice, Robert Wood Johnson, Foundation, education, healthcare, nurses, patients, practice, improve, RWJF, IOM

Heart association offers tips for good teamwork in OR

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 @ 01:55 PM

Improving communication and strengthening teamwork among cardiac surgery teams are among recommendations for reducing preventable mistakes in the cardiac OR, according to a statement from the American Heart Association.

The statement provides recommendations for improving patient safety after the association reviewed evidence-based research focused on communication within and between teams, the physical workspace and the organizational culture of the cardiac OR.

"In multiple studies, self-assessment of communication and teamwork skills by surgeons and anesthesiologists is disturbingly discordant with the opinions of their associated nursing and perfusion staff," the statement authors wrote. "Surgeons rated the teamwork of other surgeons as high/very high 85% of the time, but nurses rated their collaboration with surgeons as high/very high only 48% of the time."

The authors also noted that in the OR, "conflicts are often poorly managed through avoidance, yielding or competition, when collaboration and compromise would yield a better outcome. Collaboration and compromise are particularly difficult when there is status asymmetry, whereby one member has greater power or seniority, such as physicians with nurses or an attending physician with residents."

Highlights of the statement, published Aug. 5 on the website of the journal Circulation, include: 

• Using checklists and/or briefings before every cardiac surgery, followed by postoperative briefings;

• Developing institutional policies to define disruptive behaviors by medical professionals in all hospital settings, with transparent, formal procedures for addressing unacceptable behaviors; 

• Establishing an institutional culture of safety by implementing a robust quality improvement system that encourages input from all team members to continuously identify and correct safety hazards. 

"From the data available," the authors wrote, "it appears that teams should be trained as teams, not as individuals; that use of simulated scenarios is effective; that both executive leadership and nurse managers are critical to effective implementation; and that repetition, continued coaching or both are required to strengthen and maintain benefits."

The authors noted the critical elements of teamwork can be summarized by the Six Cs: communication, cooperation, coordination, cognition, conflict resolution and coaching.

The statement is available as a PDF:


Topics: improve, communication, teamwork, cardiac, cardiac OR, AHA

Do You Need To Care To Be A Great Nurse?

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Jul 24, 2013 @ 11:33 AM

good nurse, great nurse, be a nurseby Mark Downey

One of the questions that I frequently ask my students is, “Do you need to care to be a great nurse?” It’s always interesting to read the expressions on their faces and imagine what they must be thinking, because for the majority of my students it is the wanting to be a nurse and all that it entails that is a motivating factor in studying for their nursing degree.

From “Is he trying to trick me?” to “My teacher is an idiot!”, I can see the cogs and wheels ticking over in their brains. More often than not, I don’t give them an opportunity to answer. Instead, I tell them, “You don’t have to care about people to be a nurse. I consider myself an excellent nurse, but I’m not paid to care”.

Reactions to this vary. The two most common being dumbstruck, tongue tied and not knowing quite what to say or alternatively the hairs on the back of the neck bristle and I am challenged (often quite vigorously). Rarely, if ever, does anyone agree with me.

Let me explain with an example. If you’re a patient in an Accident and Emergency Room or perhaps lying unconscious in an Intensive care bed or on an operating table, is it really going to matter if the nurse gives two hoots about caring for you? Of course not! What is important is that the nurse is clinically competent and understands your health requirements so that every opportunity is afforded in generating a positive health outcome.

A steam train driver doesn’t have to care about his train to drive it, but he does need to understand how it works. As long as the gauges stay within the safe zones and coal is regularly fed to help generate steam to drive the engine, it doesn’t matter if he cares about the train or not. In fact, regardless of his care factor, the end result will never vary as long as he is good at his job. To be a good and great nurse is to know how to do your job right. I know everyone will agree.

Isn’t a nurse just like the train driver? Health outcomes will always be the same regardless of how much caring the nurse gives. It all boils down to the nurse trainings and the skills they have developed and how they are implemented. Nothing more, nothing less. A Cardiac Nurse needs to know about your heart, how it works, what the ECG squiggles mean and what the drugs that have been prescribed for you are going to do, but they don’t need to know your hearts desires or what’s in your heart. Isn’t that the job of the Chaplain?

Another important point is not to confuse advocating for the patient with caring. Advocacy is mandatory if the nurse’s training and experience lead them to believe that an alternative option may deliver a better health outcome for the patient. But really you don’t have to care to advocate as it’s just part of being a good nurse.

My argument is further proven when you consider the nursing process. Although it comes in many forms and guises, it is essentially:

  • Assess the situation.
  • Planning a course of action.
  • Implement that action plan.
  • Review the effectiveness of the plan and when necessary returning to step 1 and repeating. 

Nowhere, I repeat, nowhere, in any of the literature I have read, have I ever seen or mentioned that caring was required as part of the nursing process.

So do nurses care about their patients? Of course they do! Don’t be a goose! For the vast majority it’s an integral part of what makes them who they are. Nurses are looking after people, not machines. So, do I care for the people that I look after? I do and with a passion, but I don’t have to and, if couldn’t care for people, I couldn’t do my job.

Earlier on in this post I made the comment “I consider myself to be a great nurse, but I’m not paid to care.” This, I hold, as an absolute truth. When I am nursing, I am not paid to care.  You cannot pay me to care. I will not accept money to care! I choose to care because I want to care and you get that for free.

Source: NurseTogether

Topics: quality, nursing, training, patients, advocate, improve

Experience Sets You Apart when It Comes to Quality Nursing Care

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, Jun 10, 2013 @ 03:49 PM

patient care, nursing careAs a health care giver, you have a responsibility to ensure that they have adequate knowledge in order to provide competent nursing care. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about “rapid cognition,” or our innate sense of “knowing” in his 2005 book, “Blink.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it; it is a fascinating read for all nurses. Of it, Gladwell says:

“You could also say that it’s a book about intuition, except that I don’t like that word. In fact, it never appears in ‘Blink.’ Intuition strikes me as a concept we use to describe emotional reactions, gut feelings -- thoughts and impressions that don’t seem entirely rational. But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is perfectly rational. It’s thinking -- it’s just thinking that moves a little faster and operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious decision-making that we usually associate with ‘thinking.’ In ‘Blink’ I’m trying to understand those two seconds. What is going on inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition better?”

Within professional nursing, we call this concept “tacit knowledge.” It is not easily shared through lectures or books, but it comes with experience and knowing through repetitive, almost unaware situations and critical thinking. I explicitly learned about tacit knowledge (what an oxymoron) in my undergraduate nursing studies. However, I actually learned tacit knowledge while working with patients alongside more experienced nurses.

I picked it up from colleagues such as the night shift nurse, a LVN with 30 years of experience, who walked back to the desk after assessing a certain patient she’d cared for during the last three days saying, “I’m going to keep my eye on Mr. Second-Door-on-the-Left. I can’t put my finger on it, but I’m going to watch him.” As the oh-so-terribly-young charge nurse, I’d walk in and assess him, too, especially because I knew he was scheduled for discharge some time the next day. Not seeing what my colleague saw nor anything in the chart to cause alarm, I brushed it off only to think, What the…???, as we called a code in the wee hours of the morning -- in between patient rounds because my colleague increased her routine patient checks, “just because.” Similar situations have happened to me numerous times, and I have learned to trust members of the nursing community when they sense something going awry with a patient.

Tacit knowledge is one way to improve patient care, though it’s hard to explain when you know it as well as when you learn it. What a mysterious and fascinating concept and feeling.

Source: NurseTogether

Topics: quality, health care, patient care, improve, nursing care

4 nurse communication startups to improve patient outcomes

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Nov 30, 2012 @ 03:23 PM

October 9, 2012 4:12 pm by  

imageCommunication is a critical component of healthcare, particularly when you consider the potential for miscommunication in a hectic environment when a delay or misunderstanding can cause needless complications for patients with the potential for catastrophic results. About 70 percent of sentinel events in a healthcare setting are caused by communication lapses.

With nurses taking on more responsibility, theneed for finding ways to improve communication is likely to increase. Here are fourhealth IT and communicationstartupsthat are developing and providing devices to improve patient outcomes.

Voalte: After raising $ 6 million in a series B round, Sarasota, Florida-basedVolate is adding 100 jobs to its 50-strong ranks. The communications firm works with companies to modernize their outdated communications systemas its platform for iPhones and iPadsand desk based computers relies on the providers’ Wi-Fi system. The platform integrates phone calls, alarms and alerts. It shows users which clinical care team members are available. The clinical care team platformhelps nurses delegate by showing which staff are available at any given time. If a patient needs the bathroom orif they trigger an alert a nurse can delegate that task and eithertype their own message orchoose froma list of frequently sent requests. Thesystem also confirms when a messagehas been read.

Carex: The Indianapolis startup’s cloud based platform, Handoffsfor Extended/Assisted Living, has honed in on an area vulnerable for communication errors: shift changes. It pulls basic information about each patient from the facility’s electronic medical records toa computer or iPad. Nurses can carry the iPad and use the program to make notes about patients during their shift. When they are ending their shift, nurses digitally hand over the patients to the incoming nurses, who are prompted to accept them when nurses log in to HEAL and begin their shift.Once the new nursesaccept the patient load, thedepartingnurses are notified by text message. The incoming nurses get access to any notes made about that patient by the previous nurses, with the most recently edited patient records appearing at the top of the screen.

Gweepi Medical:Its adult diaper sensor for healthcare providers such as nursing homes can help track incontinence. The Cambridge, Massachusetts health tech company uses a wireless sensor and software system and when it is wet it sends an alert to nursing staff. It alsokeeps track of the time and severity of each episode, providing the opportunity for a more personalized care plan with the additional data.

Starling Health: The New York City company’s two-way communication devices are positioned at the bedside so patients can contact nurses when they need to get out of the bed for medication or a bathroom visit. One goal of the system is to improve staff efficiency in carrying out these tasks. There are also touchscreen icons for patients who aren’t as computer savvy. Calls can be routed to different staff members, depending on the type of call, in order to dispatch the most suitable level of care. And it’s multilingual.

Topics: communication startups, nurse, patient, improve


Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 @ 11:28 AM

Anyone who has been in the nursing field for an extended period of time will tell you that a lot has changed. In fact, the twentieth century brought – literally – a technological “invasion” to nursing. 

According to Kaplan Nursing, from small advances, like digital thermometers, to sophisticated strides, like laser surgery, health care as a whole has been on quite a rollercoaster - and nurses have been along for the ride.

Medical advancements and information technologies of the twentieth century have not only changed the face of the nursing – they have become part of the intricate fabric of the field. 

But what are the technologies responsible for this monumental transformation?

One nursing professional – and author of a site called The Nurse Lady- offers these 19 technologies that changed nursing forever.

1.Electronic IV monitors

There was a time when IVs had to be administered with a nurse’s constant attention to ensure a steady flow. Manual IVs were highly sensitive to a patient’s movement and the flow of the IV could be sped up or slowed to a crawl by a subtle movement. To prevent this, nurses had to directly administer an IV from beginning to start. With the advent of IV pump infusion and electronic monitoring, nurses are freed up to initiate an IV and allow a machine to monitor and regulate the process. If there is an error, the system tries to correct it, and otherwise contacts the nurse via remote monitoring.

2.The Sphygmomanometer

The sphygmomanometer is simply a fancy term for electronic blood pressure cuffs that also measure heart beat rate automatically. Gone are the days when a nurse had to measure blood pressure manually. According to one nurse, this is the technological change that makes the biggest daily difference.

3.Information management

As computer technologies become the primary means of managing patient information, nurses have had to adapt their record-keeping practices and increase their computer skills. Nursing informatics is a specialty that has emerged, combining IT skills and nursing science.

4.The portable defibrillator

Manual CPR can only do so much and for the longest time this was the only method available to many nurses for reviving someone’s heart. Now, even school nurses stand a fighting chance to save the life of a person whose heart has failed. The few minutes after heart failure are critical, and the portable defibrillator allows for immediate resuscitative action.

Sturdy, portable IT devices

Tablet computers and mobile wireless computer stations are now a standard part of the day-to-day methods of delivering care to patients. Charts are updated continuously, in real time, providing nurses with immediate access to essential patient information.

6.Readily accessible base of information

Wireless Internet connections quickly make reference materials available. This can prove very helpful for diagnosis, especially when using a resource like WebMD.

7.The sonogram/ultrasound

Ultrasound devices provide nurses working with pregnant patients the ability to see inside the womb. Ultrasound has been nothing short of revolutionary in the field of Women’s Health and pregnancy, allowing nurses and doctors to noninvasively identify the health of the baby throughout pregnancy. Now, with the advent of 4-D ultrasound, unprecedented detail is available for diagnosing fetal well-being. In addition to pregnancy monitoring, sonogram technology also offers many other new diagnostic advances such as the ability to easily identify cancer tumors in the bladder, and to tell whether the liver is enlarged.

8.Local wireless telephone networks

These systems significantly reduce communication delays. Not only is this type of communication technology being utilized between nursing staff, but also between patients and staff, changing the dynamics of the relationship between patients and their nurses.

9.Hands-free communication devices

Hands-free devices such as Vocera’s Call Badge provide the ultimate in communication while a nurse is engaged in active patient care or associated tasks.

10.Communications options

It is not uncommon for patients and nurses (and doctors) to communicate via e-mail or even web cam; a practice that is becoming common for parents of children in neo-natal intensive care units.

11.Patient remote monitoring

In addition to high-tech and ultra-sensitive vital signs monitoring equipment, web cams and other technologies make the close monitoring of multiple patients much easier, changing how environments are staffed and operated.

12.RFID technologies

RFID-enabled devices make monitoring hospital assets easier, ranging from drugs and equipment to records and patients. They also enhance safety and security with less effort and lower long-term cost.

13.Compact, portable medical devices

Combined with portable IT and communication equipment, these small, high-tech types of devices allow well-equipped nurses to take their skills on the road. They can travel to patients’ homes and treat conditions that once had to be treated on an in-patient basis.

Neo-natal nursing advancements

New, more affordable portable devices for the care of tinier and more health-compromised babies.

15.Drug management technologies

High-tech systems of medication retrieval and delivery, such as bar coding and verification, have greatly reduced the potential for dangerous error. Infusion equipment advances have made the delivery of slow-administer drugs much easier, with computerized machines able to control dosages and rates.

16.Configurable nursing environments

Configurable work spaces increases efficiency and safety, reduces stress, and prevents accidents and injuries.

17.Learning technologies

The availability of individual and off-site learning opportunities and degree programs, via specialized software and online classes, allows for more rapid career advancement.

18.Video conferencing

The ability to interact with nursing professionals throughout the world, through such means as video conferencing, offers advantages and opportunities like never before, both in terms of the further development of the nursing profession and the continued improvement in patient care outcomes.

19.The blogosphere 

Medical technologies have brought changes to the process of life and death and the role of the nurse. The Internet allows nurses to share their experiences and feelings. As technology transforms the profession, nurses adapt and change as well. The big question is: What will the rest of the twenty-first century bring?

Topics: nursing, technology, improve

Improving Healthcare for 68,000 Black & Latino Children

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 @ 02:27 PM


Federal healthcare law changes
 dramatically impact how the  industry—hospitals, health-insurance companies and pharmas—do business today. University Hospitals in Cleveland has been aggressively reaching out to the newly insured, predominantly Blacks and Latinos. University Hospital’s Case Medical Center’s Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, known asUH Rainbow, is receiving a $12.8-million grant to implement a Physician Extension Team, which works to improve the healthcare of about 68,000 children on Medicaid with high rates of emergency-room visits.

Dr. Drew Hertz, medical director for UH Rainbow Care Network and an assistant clinical professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, was a guest speaker at DiversityInc’s Innovation Fest! event where he explained how this innovative program will provide 24/7 access to nurses and doctors for referrals, advice and healthcare coordination. University Hospitals is one of the 2012 DiversityInc Top 5 Hospital Systems. View the video below.

Topics: Latino, black, healthcare, children, improve

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