Since completing my INQRI research, “The Effects of Nurse Presenteeism on Quality Care and Patient Safety,” in 2010, I believe the importance of nurse health has received much needed national and international attention. A healthy nursing workforce is not only important to the profession, but also to quality of patient care and hospital costs. We have received requests to share the survey our interdisciplinary team developed from researchers throughout the United States, as well as Australia, the Philippines, Trinidad, Iceland, and South Africa. Recently our study has received attention from other health care professions and we have also received requests for our survey tool from dental hygienists and physical therapists. Importantly, I have been actively consulting with hospitals throughout North Carolina on addressing nurses’ health concerns, especially mental health and the high rates of nurse depression identified in our study. I am now working towards researching interventions that will improve nurse health, which will ultimately improve quality of care and patient safety and decrease health system costs.
On a personal note, I have received unexpected recognition because of our study results. After publishing our findings in high impact nursing journals, I was interviewed by health care writers throughout the country. Our study findings were presented in a NY Times blog, in hospital administrator newsletters, and in specialty nursing group newsletters. I have been an invited speaker for large nursing groups, including the British Columbia Nurses Union, and OR Nurse Managers, as well as for numerous regional and local nursing organizations. I was also interviewed for a live NPR program. Finally, I believe my INQRI grant was instrumental in my being selected as a Fellow in the Academy of Nursing, a life-long career goal which I did not expect to achieve for several more years.
I would not have developed such a successful interdisciplinary team without the support and funding from the RWJF INQRI program. The findings from our study have the potential to not only improve the health of nurses, but also to improve quality of care while decreasing hospital costs. They have laid the foundation for future work which will provide guidance to hospital systems on ensuring a healthy nursing workforce as well as provide the support for needed policy change.
Dr. Letvak is an Associate Professor and Chair of Adult Health Nursing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
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