Friday April 26th 2019

Nurses have made gains but more needs to be done

RNs have been instrumental in making significant progress toward improving the quality and safety of health care in the United States over the past decade. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospital-acquired conditions declined 17 percent between 2010 and 2014—resulting in 2.1 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions, 87,000 lives saved and $20 billion in savings. But despite these achievements, more can and must be done.

More than 1,300 attendees at the American Nurses Association Con­ference, March 9-11, explored the connection between quality, safety, staffing and improved patient outcomes.

More than 1,300 attendees heard this critical message at the 2016 American Nurses Association Conference, “Connecting Quality, Safety and Staffing to Improve Outcomes,” held March 9-11 in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Highlights from the conference follow.

Culture of safety

ANA President Pam Cipriano

In her welcome remarks, ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, told attendees, “By being here today, you are demonstrating your own commitment to fostering a culture of safety in health care—wherever you practice—in the hospital, the community, the home, long term care, schools or a clinic. Your voice and leadership will be essential to ensure safety is not compromised.”

ANA’s yearlong focus for 2016 is a culture of safety which, according to ANA’s “Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards,” is defined as “core values and behaviors resulting from a collective and sustained commitment by organizational leadership, managers and health care workers to emphasize safety over competing goals.”

“While patient safety is undoubtedly important, so, too, is that of the health care provider,” Cipriano said. “ANA has a long-standing commitment to ensuring the health and wellness of nurses in all settings.” She then provided examples of ways ANA is advocating for RNs, including an emphasis on eliminating manual patient lifting to prevent musculoskeletal injuries; promoting  zero tolerance for violence, incivility and bullying in the workplace; and calling on nurses and their employers to ensure nurses are not fatigued when they work.

Preconference sessions

In two preconference sessions, “Staffing Basics: Building Concepts” and “Making the Case for Staffing: Finding Advanced Solutions,” Jim Fenush, MS, RN, director of nursing, clinical support services at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA, and Rita Barry, BSN, RN, nurse manager of scheduling and staff deployment at Hershey, shared their expertise on innovative approaches to staffing, including new care delivery models and making the case for appropriate staffing and skill mix.

Attendees were asked to participate in a small group activity to answer the following questions: What are your greatest staffing and scheduling challenges? What is working well related to staffing and scheduling? Some of the challenges the nurses shared included difficulty finding adequate staff, scheduling, high employee dissatisfaction and managing overtime. The attendees were then asked to highlight one successful solution related to staffing or scheduling from their organization. Some solutions included offering bonuses and making sure nurses took their lunch and breaks.

Another preconference session that focused on quality gave participants the tools needed to apply Quality and Safety Education for Nurses competencies to their practice settings.

The value of creative thinking

Josh Linkner

Keynote speaker Josh Linkner, CEO of the Institute for Applied Creativity in Bloomfield Hills, MI, inspired nurses with an energetic speech about the power of “creative disruption” and approaching work processes differently, whether in how a nurse greets a patient, handles paperwork or other daily duties.

“Nurses have to improvise and think creatively,” Linkner said. “These skills will drive better outcomes, better quality and better safety for their patients and communities.”

To bring home his point, Linkner discussed the “5 Obsessions of Innovators,” which were get curious, crave “what’s next,” defy tradition, get scrappy and adapt fast.  Linkner encouraged nurses to “not do things the way they’ve always been done” to yield better results.

Conference sessions

The conference featured more than 50 sessions on a range of topics—from building patient satisfaction and improving workflow efficiency to addressing nurse fatigue and preventing falls. For example, in the session, “Game of Errors: Changing a Culture of Safety by Bringing Errors to the Front Line,” led by Suzanna Ho, MSN, RN, and Sonya Wood-Johnson, MSN, RN, PCCN, attendees learned how a team of nurses implemented a mobile and interactive tool to improve nurses’ awareness and understanding of patient safety issues. In the general session, “Better Support, Better Outcomes: A Conversation on the Ethics of Staffing,” Leah Curtin, ScD(h), MA, MS, RN, FAAN, discussed the connection between nurse staffing and patient outcomes.

More than 40 poster presenters shared their knowledge with attendees.

At lunchtime, attendees could meet the editors of ANA’s journal, American Nurse Today, to learn tips on how to get published, or join a conversation on innovations in workforce management solutions with nurse leaders Jackie Larson, president of Avantas; Karlene Kerfoot, chief nursing officer at API Healthcare; and Danielle Miller, chief nursing officer at Infor Healthcare.

“It’s always a great opportunity to hear from nurses relative to the challenges they are experiencing and insights they can share to help us develop better solutions for them to care for their patients,” Larson said.

The conference also offered virtual sessions and, for the first time, walking CE sessions where participants walked the beautiful grounds of the hotel—getting exercise and gaining knowledge. More than 40 poster presenters lent their expertise to the program.

Jane Englebright

In her presentation, Jane Englebright, PhD, RN, CENP, FAAN, called health information technology a powerful tool for organizational change. “In the last three to five years, technology is working for us rather than giving us more work to do,” she said, noting advancements in computer applications and tools that help prevent medication errors.

Englebright, chief nursing executive, patient safety officer and senior vice president at Hospital Corporation of America in Nashville, urged nurses to “bring new ideas and thoughts to how we do our work.”  And she challenged them to come up with one creative, innovative idea to improve work processes in their job.

About the conference, Cipriano said, “ANA is sending a powerful message by exploring quality, safety and staffing together.  By placing these elements in their proper context, we are recognizing that the three are inextricably linked and critical to achieving a culture of safety in health care—for the benefit of nurses and patients.”

New ANA brands

Also, ANA announced the launch of the new ANA Enterprise and the refreshed American Nurses Association and American Nurses Foundation brands. As the organizing structure of ANA, the Foundation, and the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the ANA Enterprise will leverage the combined strength of each organization to drive excellence in practice and ensure the voice and vision of nurses are recognized. Learn more at www.anaenterprise.org.

The ANA Annual Conference is made possible in part by funding and support from the American Nurses Foundation and from sponsors, including Avantas; Edelman Financial Services; Infor Healthcare; API Healthcare, a GE Company; Drexel University Online; Excelsior College; and Wolters Kluwer Health. More than 100 exhibitors supported the conference.

— Veronica Byrd is director of public relations for the American Nurses Association.

Save the date!
The 2017 ANA Conference will be held March 8-10, 2017 in Tampa, FL.

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