Nurses have a solution to the staffing crisis, if leaders will listen

The nursing shortage is having a devastating effect on the nation’s fragile health care system. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted why nurses are so important to healthcare, but it has also exposed a harsh reality—nurses are undervalued and unsupported. And the challenges they face are unprecedented.

Nurses deeply understand the problems of their profession. Therefore, they are best positioned to transform it. With leadership support and continued investment in their knowledge and expertise, nurses can make radical breakthroughs that maximize patient outcomes while minimizing stress for their colleagues.

Related: Nurses at 2 NY hospitals approve contract

Hospitals and health systems, like the nurses and other healthcare professionals they employ, are fragile. Inflation, rising labor costs and other operational challenges may make decision-makers wary of backing bold initiatives, but flexibility, creativity, and collaboration will be required. to fix this broken system.

Based on over 30 years of experience working with and around nurses, I recommend three approaches to improving the nursing profession:

Listen first, then act. Listen to nurses and identify how organizations can better support them. That’s what the American Nurses Foundation has done through its Nursing Reinvention Initiative. The nurses told us they had an idea, and we showed up with the money. Out of hundreds of applications, this initiative has funded 10 exciting nurse-led projects that promise more than a one-time solution. With our $14 million in funding over the next three years, projects aim to demonstrate far-reaching change is possible. Organizations need to identify their nurse leaders and capture their ideas on how to address critical gaps in nursing. Leaders can be invigorated by what they learn.

Harnessing nursing knowledge. Nurses are care professionals and their expertise is valuable in the related fields. For example, some funded projects use technology developed by nurses to enable care teams to use their time more efficiently.

A nurse informatics recognizes that there are patterns in the way nurses record electronic health records when they are concerned about potential changes to a patient’s health. The insight led to the creation of CONCERN (RN-Entered Communicative Narrative Concern), a prediction engine that analyzes those patterns to help prevent organ failure and other critical conditions in hospitalized patient.

With funding from the initiative, that nurse and her team are working with a number of healthcare organizations to test the scalability of CONCERN: Mass General Brigham in Massachusetts, University Medical Center Vanderbilt in Tennessee and the University of Washington School of Medicine/Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Missouri. The project will focus on data collection—especially best practices on how to deploy CONCERN on new locations while minimizing any biases on race, ethnicity, and coverage levels .

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Let go of what doesn’t work. A persistent gap exists between what practicing nurses need to know and what they are trained to do in nursing school. Students need to graduate with the skills and confidence to work in diverse and complex environments. They should never be surprised by what awaits them after graduation.

Several projects are changing the way nurses learn to ensure students have the competencies they need to succeed. Ohio State University’s Breakthrough Nursing Education with XR, AI, and ML program uses augmented reality to expose students to more real-world situations. The goal is to improve graduate nurses’ readiness to practice by educating them at a more personalized pace.

Augmented reality provides a risk-free environment for students to learn from their mistakes. They can view healthcare from the patient’s perspective, which often allows aspiring nurses to overcome implicit biases and find exciting new ways to deliver care. . To date, students have participated in more than 2,000 simulations designed to prepare them for a world with evolving and demanding healthcare needs.

Shifting to a competency-based model while using new educational tools will allow each student to demonstrate that they understand what they are being taught, what is expected of them, and how to care for patient populations. different personnel before they practice.

While the fund was able to fund 10 projects in the Regenerative Nursing Initiative, the real story was about 334 ideas the fund couldn’t. More leadership involvement will be needed to support projects that can empower nurses to stay in the profession and work alongside doctors, staff, and administrators to fix problems. has led to this crisis. Careers and industries are poised for change. The nurses can get us there.

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