Improving engagement: Nursing units focus on professional development, enhanced communication

February 21, 2019  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees,

Michigan Medicine’s next Employee Engagement Survey is a little more than a month away. That makes it the perfect time to look back at last year’s survey and check in on some of the areas that have made improvements thanks to vital feedback from employees.

One such area that has worked hard to make Michigan Medicine a better place to work and heal is nursing.

Here’s a quick overview of changes units have made — improvements that may also work in your area of the organization!

Developing better employees

Following the 2018 Vital Voices survey, nurses — along with employees across the organization — targeted professional development as an area for improvement.

With that in mind, nursing leaders implemented skills blitzes, giving employees a chance to learn new skills in quick, easy-to-digest ways without leaving the academic medical center. During the blitzes, clinical nursing directors, clinical specialists, educators, unit-based committee chairpersons and magnet ambassadors attend a five-hour interactive, skill-building session that addresses current health care challenges and facilitates building strong nursing leaders.

Some units also began hosting lunch-and-learns focused on case studies and diagnoses that are common to each specific unit.

“We understand that time is precious for our nurses, as they are dedicated to helping our patients as much as possible,” said Julie Grunawalt, M.S., RN-GCNS-BC, CNML, associate chief nursing officer for UH/CVC. “That’s why we wanted to provide learning opportunities on-site, so that our team members can find the information and career growth they need without inhibiting patient care in any way.”

That’s not to say off-site learning opportunities aren’t made available as well. Nurses have also begun holding eight-hour staff retreats, filled with fun, learning and hands-on skills assessments.

Sharing expertise

In recent months, another focus has been to support nurses as they grow along their career path through what is known as the Framework and Role Specific Advancement Process. This is a portfolio-based, nurse-driven process that recognizes excellence in nursing practice.

Nurses on 6C recently attended a conference and brought their findings back to Michigan Medicine.

Nurses on 6C recently attended a conference, then brought their findings back to Michigan Medicine. Additionally, on 6C, three nurses were sent to an annual Cystic Fibrosis conference, and they were then asked to disseminate their findings widely within the organization.

On 8C, two nurses went to the 2018 Med/Surg conference and then held in-services on various topics with fellow nurses and clinicians.

8C has also launched a nursing poster project, with nurses being encouraged to create posters that lay out important information about specific diagnoses. Five posters have been created to date.

“Our nurses are experts in their fields, and they should have the opportunity to learn as much as possible about their work,” Grunawalt said. “And it benefits everyone if they then pass that knowledge on to their colleagues, making our organization stronger and our patient care even better.”

Finding — and celebrating — success

Nursing has also worked hard to improve recognition and communication.

For instance, within the units, recognition of important milestones has been enhanced.

“We’re celebrating unit successes more than we ever have before,” Grunawalt said. Along with Infection Prevention and Epidemiology and the Office of Clinical Affairs, nursing and other clinicians hold hand hygiene compliance celebrations and promote 365 Days of Safety Awards.

When it comes to heightened communication, a pilot program is set to debut that will aim to strengthen the nurse-physician partnership.

One of the posters created by nurses on 8C.

“We are set to launch SHARE rounding,” Grunawalt said, explaining that SHARE stands for Structured Hospital Associated Risk Evaluation. “During these rounding exercises, physicians and nurses will work together to provide information about specific risks each patient may face during their stay. That could include falls, CAUTIs, aspiration or other potentially-harmful events. The goal is to keep our team members in constant communication and, in the end, improve patient safety.”

With these many initiatives in place, the results of the 2019 Employee Engagement Survey will indicate just how effective they have been.

“We’re confident that our new programs have made Michigan Medicine a better place to work,” Grunawalt said. “But we’re always open to tweaking things or creating new programs. Engagement is always a work in progress and we’ll always be trying to get better.”

The next Vital Voices survey will take place April 1-12. Stay tuned to Headlines as more information is rolled out.