Healthcare is an industry fraught with unique challenges for all of the stakeholders involved in the execution of care. For leaders, the implementation of new technology, policy and methods is a lot to take on.
Nurse leaders play a vital role in addressing these challenges and ensuring that their staff is well equipped with the skills, tools and personnel necessary to improve patient care outcomes. Jacksonville University offers coursework specifically tailored to help current and aspiring nurse leaders address the challenges the industry faces.
Here are some of the most significant challenges facing these professionals.
Find Nurses with the Right Skills
When it comes to recruiting new nurses, one challenge is finding nurses that fit the need you have. There are a variety of disciplines within nursing now, be it something like informatics or going on to become a nurse practitioner. As nurses become more specialized, ensuring you have the right staff in the right places becomes more of a challenge.
This challenge even extends to nurse managers. A study published in Nurse Management revealed that 86% of the nurse managers they surveyed had “no formal leadership development when they first moved into the nurse manager role.”
Finding the right nurses with the right experience is a significant challenge that requires leaders to be creative in making their work environments enticing and engaging.
The issue of nurse retention is an important one to address for healthcare leaders. One expert interviewed by Health Leaders Media estimates that a 1% decrease in nurse turnover rates is worth around $337,000 annually.
According to research from NSI Nursing Solutions, nursing turnover in hospitals is at about 19%, with RNs overall not far behind at a rate of just over 17%. Of all registered nurse specialties, nurses working in behavioral health, telemetry, emergency, critical care and step-down specializations had the highest turnover rates.
Furthermore, a decade long study from the RN Work Project shows that 17% of newly licensed RNs vacate their first job within a year with that number increasing to one-third in two years. Reversing this has been an ongoing battle for the industry, but progress is being made in specific areas, such as raising the nurse’s reputation within the hospital, the modernization of clinical career ladders and implementation of holistic nursing practices.
With the number of nurses needed to meet healthcare’s needs going forward, retention of the current workforce is quickly becoming one of the most important challenges for nurse leaders today.
Having a staff that can not only cope with coming into contact with a variety of cultures and viewpoints, but also be able to communicate effectively with them is vital to the execution of effective care. This requires the development of a diverse workforce that more closely reflects the society we live in.
Cultural awareness and sensitivity are vital to both patient satisfaction and caregiver effectiveness. Nurses who are aware of how culture influences behavior and thinking are better able to care for patients. Awareness of rules regarding interactions within a specific cultural group, be it communication patterns and customs, family roles or spirituality, cultural awareness can help nurses understand patients more comprehensively.
There are a plethora of technological tools enhancing the way we provide care in modern healthcare, but how they fit into budgets, workflows and nursing skillsets makes selecting the right tools for a facility a more significant challenge than simply shopping from a wish list of cool tech. The consequences for steering a care team wrong when it comes to technology usually land in the nurse’s lap.
Poor infrastructure leads to documentation problems and workflow hang ups that, more often than not, nursing units have to deal with before everyone else.
“Chief Nursing Officers need to stay abreast of new technology and how it will help us to better care for patients,” Paula McKinney, Vice President of Patient Services at Woodlawn Hospital in Indiana said in an interview with Health Leaders Media. “And we need to be advocates for the technology that will help make [nurses] more available to the bedside.”
Scope of Work for Nurse Managers
The workload of RNs is commonly understood to be heavy, but it’s less recognized that their managers are often overburdened as well. Tasked with heading up retention efforts, nurse training sessions, care strategy planning and patient satisfaction measurements, nurse managers may be required to work long hours and take on a variety of challenges.
In the end, enough staffing of nurse managers can yield better results, with one hospital telling Health Leaders Media that they have one nurse manager for every 25 full time equivalent nurses. Keeping the volume of direct reports realistic and the number tasks they are asked to take on within reason is important for care facility leaders to consider as they examine how to optimize performance.