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Empowering and celebrating nursing excellence

Last week, I had the pleasure and privilege of joining colleagues from around the country at the ANCC National Magnet Conference® and ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference® in Chicago. The annual event is always an invigorating, eye-opening experience, and this year’s was no exception.

Reflecting on our time together, a couple of key themes struck me—themes we should continue to explore as we shape a better future for our nursing workforce and, by extension, the patients we care so deeply for.

The unquestionable importance of nurses in patient experience and clinical outcomes

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted an important aspect of the human condition: that we crave connection with others, that we thrive when we forge deep and meaningful relationships. And this is so true in healthcare, where clinical environments and transactional interactions can strip the humanity out of our experiences. Patients often look to their nurses for empathy and support beyond their clinical expectations. Who among us hasn’t comforted a sick child, a distressed parent, a fearful patient facing an uncertain future?

Compassion is inherent to the job. It’s just as relevant as our clinical expertise and technical skills, as we help heal patients, and make sure they feel truly cared for too.

But compassion fatigue is a very real and prevalent experience, especially for healthcare workers over the past few years. While the healthcare workforce has consistently struggled with metrics like engagement, resilience, and decompression, the horrors of COVID-19 made a bad situation even more dire. And it’s yet to completely recover.

As nurses, we face common challenges. Long, grueling hours. Expanding responsibilities. A high-stakes yet often thankless job. Even workplace violence. And it’s time for healthcare organizations to show nurses the same level care—the same level of empathy, compassion, and support—that we provide to our patients day in, and day out. We must listen to them as we listen to our patients to understand their unique motivators, concerns and experiences. Technology like Press Ganey’s pulse survey solution will be more critical than ever, now and in the years ahead, to regularly collect nurse input, harness their on-the-ground perspectives as front-line caregivers, and improve the day-to-day experience of all nurses.

Nursing leaders need support like never before

The challenges of the past few years have driven record turnover among the nursing workforce.

This should alarm all of us for a number of reasons. First, it means the healthcare industry is facing a staffing crisis, which has significant implications for patient outcomes, patient experience, and patient and workforce safety. When nurses are overworked, overburdened, and overwhelmed, it’s more likely that things will slip through the cracks.

But severe burnout—and the resulting turnover—among nurses has also strained those in management positions. During the pandemic many long-tenured nurse leaders fast-tracked retirement or just took a step back, leaving big shoes to fill. Which means greener nurses have had to step up. While it’s no doubt admirable that many young nurses have embraced new roles and responsibilities, we all must face a harsh reality: that many of these newly minted nurse managers don’t yet have the experience, skill, or expertise to do the job as deftly as their predecessors. And it’s our job to give them the support they need to grow into effective nurse managers.

Press Ganey’s Nursing Leadership Academy is an accelerator for leader development, giving the next generation of managers, directors, and executives the training, skills, and knowledge to succeed in their roles. This work is further bolstered by our nursing excellence solution, which pulls together PX, NDNQI®, and nurse engagement survey data in one comprehensive source to drive performance improvements.

Celebrating excellence and innovation in nursing

This year, Press Ganey was proud to sponsor the ANCC Magnet Prize® and Pathway Award®, which recognize healthcare organizations championing innovations in patient experience. Two extraordinary organizations—and Press Ganey clients—took home the coveted prizes: Children’s Nebraska and Morton Plant Hospital, respectively.

Children’s Nebraska will use its $125,000 award to further develop “Project Austin: Bridging the Gap Between Hospital and Home for Children with Special Health Care Needs.” And Morton Plant Hospital will use its $100,000 to pursue “Virtual Nurse,” designed to improve healthcare experiences and outcomes for patients and nurses alike.

I’m so proud of these two organizations—and of their innovation, leadership, and dedication to patient experience. It is abundantly clear that both Children’s Nebraska and Morton Plant Hospital will have a lasting impact on the industry, as they help shape the future of patient experience. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store.

Nurses are the heart of healthcare. We need them to be healthy, happy, and strong for the rest of the industry to function as it should. I feel it’s critically important that we keep the conversations started at Magnet going—to continue to empower our workforce, challenge the status quo, and find innovative solutions to key issues like nurse burnout, resilience, and retention, among so many more.

At Press Ganey, we are honored to work with more than 95% of Magnet-recognized nursing organizations on their journey to excellence. So to all of my colleagues and peers, I have one last thing to say. Thank you. Thank you for your tireless dedication to patients. Thank you for putting in the hard work, even on the darkest days. We have to remember that, as nurses, we never stand alone. We have a vibrant, committed community we can turn to, lean on, and seek inspiration from. I am so proud to be part of this community. And I am confident that, by coming together, we will create a better future for our nurses and, by extension, our patients.

Feel free to reach out. Our team would love to discuss the lessons learned at this year’s Magnet Conference and anything else that might be on your mind. You can request some time with one of our nursing experts here, or browse our resources exclusively for the ANCC nursing community. We are always here for you.  

About the author

As Chief Nursing Officer, Jeff leads Press Ganey’s focus on improving patient and caregiver experience and developing nursing leadership at healthcare organizations nationwide. He also plays an integral role in the company’s workforce initiatives, including Press Ganey’s Workforce Well-Being Collaborative, which focuses on supporting caregivers as they deal with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. Prior to joining Press Ganey, Jeff served in various chief nursing officer roles at both community-based organizations and major academic medical centers throughout the US. In addition, he was the inaugural Vice President of the Magnet Recognition and Pathway to Excellence programs at the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Profile Photo of Dr. Jeff Doucette, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN