8 ways nurses shape and transform healthcare

Too few people understand that bedside nurses are the providers in charge of the functions that "very often determine health outcomes and the procurement of ethical care," according to a Huffington Post blogger.

Nurses do far more than dispense medications, dress wounds and perform physical exam, Nurse Practitioner Billy Rosa wrote in his blog post. In addition to providing daily patient care, he said, nurses:

  • Advocate for patient safety, appropriate treatment protocols, timely symptom management and specialty consultations
  • Coordinate care for all departments, from surgery and pharmacy to nutrition, social work and physical and occupational therapy, improving mortality and reducing readmissions
  • Coach patients to reach health goals and needs
  • Lead patient-centered care initiatives and create needed change

"In short, nurses are the checks and balances of healthcare," Rosa wrote. "No wonder that 85 percent of the public has ranked them number one in honesty and ethics for the past 15 of 16 years."

Nurses also are key to improving patient safety, according to an article in NursingJobs.com. Individual nurses can make a difference by supporting a culture of safety; communicating and collaborating well, including speaking up if they hear something; engaging patients; following checklists; and learning from near-misses.

Nurses at "magnet"-designated hospitals have better patient outcomes, FierceHealthcare reported this week. They:

  • Deliver patient-centered care with doctors' cooperation
  • Take the lead in care innovation
  • Make excellent care the goal

Nursing schools affiliated with academic health centers and nursing educators can play a major role in improving healthcare as well, but need to make changes first, according to a new report from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

The report, Advancing Healthcare Transformation: A New Era for Academic Nursing, found that nursing schools affiliated with academic health centers "were not well-positioned as a partner in healthcare transformation," according to an AACE announcement. The reasons: too few nurses in clinical leadership positions and governing boards; organizational structures that separate academia and practice; and too few faculty and researchers integrated into affiliated health systems.

Institutional leaders recognize they need to align more closely with academic nursing, the report found. They also think limited funding, faculty and research support hold academic nursing back from having significantly larger roles in healthcare transformation at teaching hospitals.

Among the report's recommendations:

  • Recognize academic nursing as a full partner in integrated healthcare delivery, education and research
  • Get nursing faculty more deeply engaged in clinical practices and spend more money on nursing research
  • Partner to advance new clinical models and promote accountable care.

To learn more:
- see the Huffington Post blog post
- read the NursingJobs.com article
- check out the AACN report (.pdf) and the announcement