Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What a Nurse Wants

A recent story in the Washington Post, “What Nurses Want,” highlighted a critical but unrecognized fact: When things go wrong in a hospital, it’s often the nurse who makes a difference between a good health experience and a bad one.

The story details efforts by Inova Fairfax Hospital and Georgetown University Hospital to recognize the important role that nurses play in making hospitals better and keeping patients safe. Like many hospitals around the nation facing a nursing shortage, these hospitals are developing new ways to recruit and retain nurses. It shouldn’t be a novel idea, but they’re finding that giving nurses a say in patient care works.

"It's important for me to know that what I do matters,” Jennifer Dimmick, a nurse with INOVA Fairfax told the Post.

It seems so intuitive, so simple, you might be thinking. Of course, nurses should play a central role in how we make decisions about patient care.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in many hospitals around the country, where nurses are often overworked, under-motivated, underused, and practice in work environments that too often set them up for failure. Under the INQRI program, nurses in partnership with other researchers are trying to provide the evidence to help reduce patient falls, prevent bloodstream infections, curb unnecessary readmission to hospitals, and create working conditions that ensure the best care for patients.

What are we learning through this important research? That among many things, giving nurses a voice in patient care can make all the difference.

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