BERWYN After some nurses at MacNeal Hospital finish their shifts, they head directly to class.
The classrooms, thanks to a partnership with Lewis University, Romeoville, Ill., often are quite familiar to nurses working to earn their BSN degrees.
Literally, the nurses finish their shifts and roll down the hall and go back to school, said Susan K. Morby, RN, MSN, NE-BC, director of professional practice at MacNeal.
Since 2006, RNs in the on-site program at MacNeal have graduated at a 97% rate, and the hospitals BSN rate has increased from 55% to 62%.
The programs success was celebrated May 13 by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who visited the hospital to speak to a packed room of nurses and healthcare professionals in recognition of National Nurses Week.A MacNeal Hospital nursing panel of, from left, CNO Debra A. Albert, RN; Director of Professional Practice Susan K. Morby, RN; and Cardiovascular Nurse Navigator Erika Hernandez, RN, addressed Durbin and their colleagues.
Its a good, cooperative arrangement, Durbin said. We need much more of that. … If were going to have healthcare as we want it for ourselves, for our children and for our neighbors, weve got to get serious about training and education for health professionals.
Morby, who was honored at the event for winning Nursing Spectrums 2011 Greater Chicago Nursing Excellence Award for Advancing and Leading the Profession, said the hospitals support of the program has been invaluable.
It means being flexible with [nurses] schedules and emotional support especially during chemistry, she said, evoking laughter from the crowd. I think that package together has been successful.
The program also has what Morby called a pay-it-forward angle as 18 nurses in the MSN program have agreed to teach two semesters locally for two years while they work at MacNeal.MacNeal Hospital Director of Professional Practice Susan K. Morby, RN, was presented May 13 with a framed cover recognizing her Nursing Spectrum 2011 Nursing Excellence Award in the Advancing and Leading the Profession category.
The strides MacNeal nurses have made were not lost on newly appointed CNO Debra A. Albert, RN, MSN, MBA, who was one of three nurses to speak at the event. We here at MacNeal Hospital have been so fortunate to have creative nurses that have come up with solutions, Albert said.
Increasing the pool of nursing faculty members is crucial, Durbin said, in answering the nations need for nurses.
Thats something that Im glad that MacNeal is tackling, and its something that we need to tackle as a nation, he said. The economic incentive to teach isnt there. Some are driven to it with a personal passion. Others need to have some financial reward to lead them in that direction.
During his nearly hourlong visit, Durbin expressed his support for Chicagos newest charter high school, Instituto del Progreso Latino, which is focused on encouraging high school students to consider healthcare professions. He also encouraged nurses to become politically active.
Theres no substitute for getting to know your local elected officials, he said.
Inviting a local official to a meeting to discuss issues can give nurses or community members an insight into politics.
My bet is theyd show up, and theyd listen to you, Durbin said. Theyd be crazy if they didnt.
Meeting with local officials can help nurses decide which candidates to support, and he said supporting candidates doesnt mean writing $10,000 checks.
Groups of nurses often helped Durbins staff stuff envelopes and answer phones at his Chicago and Springfield offices, which left a big impression.
Nurses, I think, are the best, Durbin said. When they were there, I was there to greet them, and I didnt forget it. When the time came after the election and they wanted to come see me, you bet they got on the schedule.
Nurses were appreciative of Durbins visit to honor the profession.
It truly, truly is a great honor, said Erika Hernandez, RN, BSN, a cardiovascular nurse navigator who also is president-elect of MacNeals nursing staff. I feel like he is a true advocate who is down to earth and somebody who is going to [discuss] issues that are present within healthcare.
Barry Bottino is a regional editor.