Nurses Week Is Coming Up Soon

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Nurses Week 2021

Photo credit: Depositphotos

Here Are Four Big Reasons to Celebrate These Vital Team Members

Nurses have been a shining light in a dark time. All of America (and the world) celebrated their heroism in 2020. But healthcare leaders have always known the pivotal role nurses play in serving patients and creating a high-performing organization. That’s why Bob Page and Tammy Peterman, executives at The University of Kansas Health System, urge organizations to recognize these amazing contributions during National Nurses Week (which is now National Nurses Month) and beyond.

“Engaged, committed nurses are crucial to the well-being of any healthcare organization,” says Peterman, coauthor along with Page of Proud But Never Satisfied: Ten Transformative Actions for Healthcare Systems (Huron Consulting Services, LLC, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-62218-111-7, $30.00). “They are the common denominator in every patient interaction. Their expertise and caring transforms patients’ lives and their leadership helps the organization thrive.”

The University of Kansas Health System leaders have a great reason to celebrate their nurses. Proud But Never Satisfied details the pivotal role their leadership played in the academic medical center’s incredible transformation over the past couple of decades. The health system went from having the lowest patient satisfaction ranking in the nation in 1997 (a dismal 5th percentile) to currently being ranked as one of the best hospitals in America by U.S. News & World Report

 Here, excerpted from the book, are four reasons why nurses are so valuable: 

They help patients get engaged in their own care. 

At The University of Kansas Health System (TUKHS), nurses don’t just dispense medications. They educate patients about their prescriptions. By saying, “Mrs. Smith, I have your pills for this morning—tell me what pills you usually take with breakfast,” nurses can assess the patient’s understanding of their medication. When patients do not know their medications, nurses provide printed information to send home with the patients at discharge. By doing this each time medication is dispensed, nurses reinforce patient education. 

They break down the “busyness” barrier. 

Like everyone in healthcare, nurses feel rushed. But they don’t have to let “busyness” be a barrier to great care. Nurses at The University of Kansas Health System ask patients, “What else can I do for you? What else can I get for you? I have the time.” This lets patients know they are the most important thing on the nurses’ minds. 

They help difficult patients who are struggling. 

A patient at The University of Kansas Health System had a traumatic brain injury that manifested in behavioral outbursts and aggression. Her team developed a schedule and a reward system for good behavior that helped her start thriving. The patient also expressed to the nursing staff the desire to work, specifically doing secretarial tasks. The team created a job for her in her hospital room, mostly cutting pictures and letters out of magazines. They made fake money and paid her for her time, and then set up a “store” where she could shop for items donated by the staff, such as shampoo, lip gloss, and nail polish. 

They listen to patient concerns and take action. 

Megan, a woman dying of cancer, was worried that her young daughter would be scared during visits because of the machines she was hooked up to. With Megan’s permission, her nurse Holly O’Brien took photos of all the equipment in the room and created a “scrapbook” with photos and captions. When the daughter arrived, Holly read the book to her, and she was unafraid when she visited her mother. O’Brien’s idea became the published book What’s All This Stuff?, which has been used in other organizations. 

“Putting patients first is what turned our hospital around, and we couldn’t have done that without nurses,” says Peterman. “They were our North Star in figuring out how to create an optimal patient experience and then delivering on that promise. They continue to do that now. They, and all nurses, should be celebrated, not just during Nurses Week, but every day.”

About the Authors:

Bob Page and Tammy Peterman are coauthors of Proud But Never Satisfied: Ten Transformative Actions for Healthcare Systems (Huron Consulting Services, LLC, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-62218-111-7, $30.00).

Bob Page is president and CEO of The University of Kansas Health System. Page has guided its transformation from an institution with the lowest patient satisfaction ranking in the nation to an organization consistently recognized among the best comprehensive academic medical centers in the country by the Vizient Quality and Accountability Study since 2006.

Tammy Peterman, MS, RN, is president, Kansas City Division, and executive vice president, chief operating officer, and chief nursing officer at The University of Kansas Health System. The organization achieved Magnet status three times in a row—to date—and “Best Hospital in Kansas City and Kansas” consistently under her leadership. 

About the Book: 

Proud But Never Satisfied: Ten Transformative Actions for Healthcare Systems (Huron Consulting Services, LLC, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-62218-111-7, $30.00) is available from major online booksellers. 

About TUKHS:

The University of Kansas Health System is a premier academic health system providing a full range of services, from routine primary care to advanced care for complex conditions. With over 1,100 staffed beds, the system includes facilities located across the Kansas City metropolitan area, as well as hospital and clinic locations in Great Bend, Hays, Larned, and Topeka, Kansas. During the past fiscal year, the health system cared for nearly 290,000 unique patients, coming from every county in Kansas, 99 percent of counties in Missouri, each of the 50 states in the U.S., and nearly 30 international locations. The health system appears on many best hospital lists and is recognized for its quality and service, provided by an outstanding team of staff and physicians. For more information, visit www.kansashealthsystem.com.

About Huron: 

Huron is a global consultancy that drives growth, enhances performance, and sustains leadership for clients in the markets they serve. Huron collaborates with healthcare organizations to develop strategies to help them own their future instead of being disrupted by it. In addition, it creates stronger leaders and improves experience and outcomes for patients, implements revenue enhancement programs, and upgrades technology systems. Learn more at www.huronconsultinggroup.com.