When nurse leaders attend the 14th annual Power of Nursing Leadership Event Nov. 4 at the Hilton Chicago, they will hear former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, PhD, give his keynote address, “New Challenges and Opportunities for Nursing in the 21st Century.”
The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, which hosts the annual event, is doing its part to better prepare nurse leaders for those challenges and opportunities through changes in its graduate program curriculum and a variety of continuing education offerings. Karen Stratton, RN, PhD, NE-BC, clinical assistant professor and coordinator for the Graduate Nursing Administrative Studies program at UIC, said the school is focused on addressing an alarmingly high rate of turnover for new nurse managers and its impact on patient safety and quality of care.
“There’s been a lot of research done around new graduates,” Stratton said. “There’s been very little (done) around new nurse managers and what they need, and they have just as high turnover rates as new nurse graduates.”
The problem, according to Stratton and her UIC colleague, Susan Ohlson, RN-BC, PhD, clinical assistant professor and director of the Office of Continuing Studies, is that many new nurse leaders are successful clinicians who are thrust into management roles without proper training. UIC’s curriculum has changed to address this issue by focusing more on leadership skills and less on management skills and by using more of a case study approach to better apply what students are learning.Yolanda Totton, RN
UIC also makes an impact on nurse leaders through continuing nurse education programs that take place onsite at healthcare facilities.
“It’s not online. It’s face-to-face,” Ohlson said. “We get the content from the learners: What are their problems? What are their issues? And we create learning activities around them so that they actually discover the solutions together themselves.”
One such example is the Positive Workplace Partnership program, which Stratton and Ohlson have been using with the med/surg staff at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital in Glendale Heights, Ill. The program began in August and will conclude Nov. 1, but the effect on staff and patients already has been positive.
Maria Knecht, RN, MSN, CNA-BC, director of med/surg and ICU nursing at GlenOaks, is a graduate of UIC’s nursing administrative certificate program who contacted the school about bringing the workshops to GlenOaks. Knecht said a recent quote from a patient in response to a discharge follow-up call reflects the kind of impact the UIC program has had. The patient described the med/surg nurses as “the happiest that I have ever seen, and this made them the greatest! I really received excellent care.”
Yolanda Totton, RN, BSN, who has been at GlenOaks for about a year and has been a manager since January, said similar responses from patients have been refreshing. She credited the workshops’ emphasis on positive reinforcement as being particularly beneficial to the department.
“Instead of focusing on the wrong, they show you how to flip it around and focus on what went right,” said Totton, the clinical nurse manager of medical, surgical, telemetry. “By focusing on what went right, if we can encourage the behaviors that went right, you can use that as well to change the culture.
“When I started back in October, some of these comments (from patients), we never would have heard.”
Knecht said she wants everyone on staff to see themselves as leaders and to take ownership in what they do every day. The UIC workshops are a big step in making that become a reality.
“You can give people all the tactics to do, but if the foundation that it’s all sitting on isn’t there, it’s not going to last,” Knecht said. “I think that was the goal of this program, to put a really solid foundation in place and really make them own it and live it, and the rest will become easier.”
Tom Clegg is a freelance writer.