Nurse leadership program helps hospitals cut costs, improve outcomes

Critical care nurses who participated in a 16-month leadership and innovation training program developed initiatives that helped their hospitals save an anticipated $28 million a year and significantly improve clinical outcomes, according to the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).

The program, called the AACN Clinical Scene Investigator (CSI) Academy, brought together 163 nurses from 42 U.S. hospitals to tackle major clinical challenges, many of which lead to preventable patient harms that the industry has worked to reduce amid its ongoing shift to value-based payment models.

Specifically, participants in ACCN's regional leadership groups developed initiatives that allowed them to: decrease patients' length of stay in intensive care units and progressive care units by one day; cut healthcare-acquired infections by 50 percent; reduce catheter-associated urinary-tract infections by 70 percent; decrease patient falls by 50 percent; and reduce pressure ulcers by 40 percent, among other improvements.

"These outcomes solidly reaffirm the value of investing in bedside nurses' leadership development," AACN CEO Dana Woods said in an announcement. "Our program evaluations confirm that dedicated time for nurses to apply their skills in leading organizational and behavioral change was vital to achieving the program's impressive results."

The CSI Academy is not the first program to leverage the power of nurses to improve outcomes. The nonprofit Partners in Health has started mentorship programs in countries like Rwanda and Haiti that aim to "raise the standard of care by raising the standard of nursing," FierceHealthcare previously reported. Whether stateside or abroad, such initiatives are backed up by research that links nurse performance as well as nurse-physician collaboration to better clinical outcomes.

For its part, the AACN has invested more than $1.25 million over the past three years in the CSI Academy project, which allows graduates to showcase their work at healthcare conferences and in talks with hospital executives and nursing schools. AACN surveys also indicate that many nurses sustained or expanded their quality improvement initiatives after graduating from the program.

Even with programs like AACN's, however, nurses face significant barriers to climb the ranks of hospital leadership, leaving them underrepresented in many C-suites, FierceHealthcare has reported.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement

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