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…About naming and claiming the RN Role September 25, 2007

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Professional Practice.
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A recent dialog among Creative Health Care Management (CHCM) consultants resulted in an internal communication I have decided to share with the blog.  As always, your comments are welcome.  (Also…how do you like the new look?)

This communication about Relationship-Based Care started with a question from Mary Koloroutis via email within our company.

From Mary to all Consultants: 

An issue that continues to surface in the RBC Leader Practicum and in some interactions I have with nurse managers and unit practice council members is that as much as they would like to implement a primary nursing model of nursing practice, that the acuity, staffing realities (ratios and schedules), and the geography of the unit, create huge barriers to their getting there.   How are client managers addressing this?

Jayne Felgen, president of CHCM, sent this reply:

From Jayne Felgen to Mary, copied to all consultants:

It IS the HEART of  RBC…accepting a responsibility relationship for the patient’s care throughout their stay on that unit is the ultimate expression of professional practice.

I’m naming it and claiming it! So, the work of the Unit Practice Council is to review current scheduling and assignment practices (Work Complexity Assessment) looking especially for fragmentation reduction opportunities…to make it more likely that the nurse who agrees to perform the admission activities might also chose to be the primary nurse.

So, like an attending physician retains responsibility despite multiple consultants, or her/his day off, so do nurses create an infrastructure in which they claim responsibility for 1-2 patients among their typical assignment. Once those responsibilities are “owned”, the nurses communicate in more deliberate ways, proactively, more precisely…not unlike a parent leaving explicit instructions for the sister who’s caring for the kids while parents have a get-away. When they return, they resume care. While they’re gone, they’ve anticipated every possible need.

Having said that, 100% compliance with this may be impossible, but, we urge them to shoot for it because it’s the right thing to do. And, using Appreciative Inquiry (AI) principles, learn why it worked when it worked, and then do more of that.

Until we accept this responsibility at this level, we’ll continue to ignore the crazy schedules (1 day on, one off, 8-10-12 hour shifts reporting on/off to each other, robbing Peter-to-pay-Paul floating practices, being married to geography rather than relationship, and other craziness that produces high variability and low professional reward/satisfaction in our systems.

I am abundantly clear that we must step up and claim our practice…not by tasks or shifts, but one relationship at a time…nurses, therapists, social workers, pharmacists, etc. It’s the professional v. technical dialog again.