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Nursing and the Human Experience: You make a difference

It’s hard to believe that it has been 30 years since I began my nursing journey as a new graduate in the emergency department. Never would I have imagined that, three decades later, I would find myself at one of the largest healthcare data companies, working with a team of incredible colleagues to transform the practice environment for nurses around the globe. This is a responsibility that I take both humbly and with great passion. As my friend and colleague Dr. Jean Watson once said, “Nurses are a unique kind. They have this insatiable need to care for others, which is both their greatest strength and fatal flaw.” Our profession is a calling, and we often put others before ourselves, prioritizing their needs above our own.

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. Yet the longstanding challenges we face daily, exacerbated by the pandemic, continue to take a toll. While recent Press Ganey data shows that nurse engagement has stabilized, and resilience among nurses has improved—ever so slightly—there's still so much more work to be done to heal our work cultures and ourselves. Dr. Watson’s quote reminds me that we must take the “insatiable need we have to care for others” and turn that passion for caring inward, putting ourselves—our own health and well-being—first, so that our greatest strength no longer becomes our “fatal flaw.”

In this blog, I will explore several of the ways our Press Ganey team is working every day to provide data and insights in support of nurses across all care settings. This work underscores that, while the road ahead is still challenging, there's much hope for our profession, and our Human Experience.

Patients trust nurses to make a difference

As nurses, being able to care for another human being is a privilege. We’re invited into the lives of perfect strangers, and asked to make a difference. And to be able to make a difference, we first need to establish a trusting relationship between us and the patients we take care of. Most clinicians go into healthcare because they have a fundamental desire to care for others. To make a difference. This certainly rings true for me, as well as many of my peers and colleagues. At our core, as clinicians, we want to deliver safe, reliable, high-quality care and, in doing so, are honoring that trust patients, and their families, place in us. We’re committed to providing excellent care, and it’s because of that commitment that patients trust us.

Innovating new models of care in nursing

One thing is clear: The way we have always done things isn’t going to work in the long term. The challenges we're seeing with our workforce—especially the projected nursing shortage in the coming years—means we must accelerate the testing and evaluation of new models that allow us to deliver effective, high-quality care for all.

Every organization is unique. It’s next to impossible to point to a silver bullet that just fixes everything. But there are components to improving how care is delivered that can help, such as shared leadership and empowering nurses to work at the top of their license. These changes must happen quickly. The pandemic has proven that healthcare can change quickly—and now, change is needed once again.

Our team at Press Ganey’s Nursing Center of Excellence recently published some updated recommendations on the nursing bundle, an evidence-based approach to safety, quality, and reliability. Our nursing bundle helps you and your nurses provide the best care possible—including purposeful interval rounding, nurse leader rounding, and bedside shift report. Organizations that commit to these foundational practices improve at a faster rate than those that don’t.

Safety and DEI in the nursing workforce

You need two crucial elements to build a culture based on connectedness: (1) a commitment to safety rooted in high reliability and (2) a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Although these two elements may seem unrelated, safety and DEI are integral to creating an environment where nurses have higher levels of engagement, and, in turn, deliver safe, effective care.

From an employee engagement perspective, a focus on DEI is one of the top five drivers of long-term retention. Employees want to work in organizations that value DEI. Nurses who feel included and accepted for who they are—across the spectrum of gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, race, religion, and other factors—are more engaged and feel safer psychologically.

Engagement translates to better outcomes, too. Employee engagement is correlated with a stronger safety culture, which leads to better safety outcomes for patients and the workforce.

For example, nurses who work for organizations that prioritize their psychological safety are more likely to report errors and near misses. When nurses feel they can speak up and discuss what’s happening within the organization—without fear of repercussions and retaliation—everyone benefits.

In addition to psychological safety, organizations must ensure physical safety as well. Two nurses are assaulted per hour in the U.S.—and assaults against caregivers often go underreported. We might not fully understand the extent of the violence nurses face in the workplace. To address this, organizations must adopt zero tolerance policies regarding any type of threatening, abusive, or violent behavior and promote a culture of safety.

Data is the answer to delivering HX in nursing

When we talk about “Human Experience healthcare,” it might seem like an approach far removed from datasets and technological innovations. But, in reality, data and technology can help us deeply understand the Human Experience—both of people in need of care, and of the people delivering it.

Looking holistically at quality, safety, and reliability data—through a Human Experience lens—can help organizations move the nursing workforce in a positive direction. When you combine that with a strong foundation of basic practices, nurses are more engaged, safer, and better able to care for patients. And that’s what Human Experience healthcare is all about.

At Press Ganey, we’re dedicated to helping organizations advance the Human Experience of healthcare. Hospitals and health systems around the country trust our cutting-edge technology and world-class expertise to deliver better care, improve the patient and employee experience, and achieve nursing excellence. To learn more about how we can help you reach and exceed your goals, contact one of our nursing experts. Thank you so much for all that you do, and happy Nurses Week!

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