Happy Nurses Day from Studer Group

May 6, 2009

Today, all across the country we kickoff a weeklong celebration of the nearly 3 million nurses who provide compassion and quality care to the rest of us. At Studer Group we are fortunate to employ, work with and serve thousands of nurses and nurse leaders. While nothing we can write in a blog will be sufficient to thank you for your tireless service, I thought you might appreciate hearing from one of your own. Recently we received the following tips from one of the most effective nurse leaders we have met along our journey. She has maintained patient satisfaction at 99% for more then 4 years, employee satisfaction above 90% for 3 years and single digit turnover as long as we have known her. We asked her to share some tips for nurses. I hope you enjoy these. They will also be part of a book later this year. On behalf of all of us at Studer Group, Happy National Nurses Day!

– Quint Studer

Going into the trenches without tools, guidance, and support sets anyone up for failure!!!”

– Sherry Thompson, RN, BS, CCRN

Just some thoughts and what I have learned from my early years as a new manager:

  • First and foremost, don’t ever think you have seen it all . . . because you haven’t and you never will.
  • You need to keep a presence on your unit, not stay locked away in your office (it is acceptable to close your door and cry occasionally).
  • Get out into the trenches on a regular basis, all shifts, even weekends. I don’t mean for you to do their work for them by taking full assignments; what I mean is actually experience some of their functions. I will answer call lights, empty bedpans, start IV’s, give a bath, answer phones if ringing too long, help physicians, help in a code, etc. My presence when they are “sinking” helps calm the storm, even if I don’t do that much. It is the fact that I am present that sends them a message that I acknowledge their skills and respect what they do.
  • Rounding on your staff means knowing your staff and making yourself aware of their life outside the hospital. No, you cannot solve their issues, but empathy goes a long way in helping them focus when they are at work. Learn about their families, their pets, their hobbies, about the current crisis in their life and remember to ask occasionally about what is important to them. I have over 80 employees and know at least one thing about each of them, so it is not impossible! They have touched me and I have grown.
  • Accountability is the keystone to team morale. Early on in my career as a manager, I tried to be everyone’s friend. Does not work!!! Start with communicating the expectations, use tough love and if that fails, do what you have to do for the whole team. You can save some people and some you can never fix!!! As you round and see positive behaviors, tell that person right then and there how much you appreciate them. If you see negative behavior, tell that person right then and there what is not right.
  • Joy and laughter are so very important!!! In the beginning, I was so serious and wanted everything to be so perfect. Patient care is stressful enough and if we cannot have joy and laughter in what we do, we will burn out long before we should. Case in point: Upon waking this morning, I made my usual phone call to the night supervisor to see what census was for my two departments. He told me, “Intermediate got killed last night; they got seven admissions in a four hour span. They weren’t too happy but it did finally settle down.” I hang up and my first thought was maybe I will go back to bed for awhile and go into work after night shift has left. NOT!! This is what I actually did…The moment I arrived on the floor, I walked up to the group of night shift staff and said. “Has anyone told you lately what an awesome team you are? I heard you had a “s_ _ t storm” last night and I also heard you did a great job!” They actually started laughing, not complaining. Negative turned to positive by laughter!!
  • I believe that rounding on my staff is the most important and effective tool I have in my manager bag of tricks!!! Happy staff equals happier patients!
  • Rounding on my staff with purpose, with putting their needs first, is the one sure way to gain and retain their respect and commitment!

One year I received a wonderful book as a Christmas present from one of my staff RN’s. The author is John C. Maxwell and the title is “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow.” The chapter on commitment really helped me understand how to stay better connected to purpose in my position as a nurse manager. The author stated that commitment starts in the heart and he quoted NBA legend Michael Jordan as saying that “heart is what separates the good from the great.” Mr. Maxwell teaches that if “you want to make a difference in other people’s lives as a leader, look into your heart to see if you’re really committed.”

So as we celebrate Nurses Week 2009, I encourage you to take the time to look at your commitment as a leader. Is it at a level that is keeping you connected to your staff?

For further resources and information on how to celebrate Nurses Week, I invite you to log onto the Studer Group website: www.studergroup.com/nursesweek

Celebrate our gift of nursing!

Sherry Thompson, RN, BS, CCRN
Director Intermediate/Critical Care Units
Pekin Hospital (Pekin, Illinois)

The above tips are excerpted from a new nurse leadership book which will be released in August 2009. The book was written to provide basic leadership fundamentals to help nurse leaders be successful. Be on the lookout of this great new resource for nurses at www.studergroup.com.


2 Responses to “Happy Nurses Day from Studer Group”

  1. Susan Smith Says:

    Hi Quint,
    What a nice article about National Nurses Week. I agree that nurses are vital to hospitals and everywhere else they are employed, but what about all the other professionals that are absolutely necessary for a hospital to function? A couple of weeks ago was National Laboratory Professionals Week and I don’t recall seeing any comments about us. I am the Director of a hospital Lab and am very proud of the work we do. Physicians and nurses would have no idea how to treat many patients without the laboratory test results we provide to them. Every department in the hospital is vital and the hospital would not be there without them. We all recognize the importance of nurses but the ancillary services always get slighted and are left feeling as though we just don’t count when we know we should count every bit as much as nurses. Nurses get many rewards that are not available to any of the rest of the hospital workers and many of my staff are resentful. As hard as I try to boost them up it is very difficult when they are bombarded about nursing at every opportunity. I think it is high time for the rest of the hospital employees to get as much recognition as the nurses do since the hospital would not exist without them. I know you are very much in favor of reward and recognition so lets make it fair and equitable for everyone.

  2. Elise Kukuzke, RTCT Says:

    Many of the staff and middle management feel that Administration staff are not participating in the Studer plan. My employees want to have contact with my chief so she can no first hand what goes on in our area. So I think the comments above are very enlightening and everyone should read them.

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