HR leaders at a northern California Medical Center created an Administrative Assistant Academy (AAA) for all Admins, Hospital Unit Service Coordinators (HUSC), Medical Office Service Coordinators (MOSC), as well as employees interested in transitioning to an administrative role. These vital, entry level workers are often the first line of contact for a patient or family and can directly impact patient flow.
When a unit is under the direction of a charge nurse, service recovery is an important part of their role. Whether they are coaching other RNs or answering directly to the patient or family, charge nurses can directly impact the patient experience.
The charge nurse's ability to communicate and lead can have a significant impact on management, patients and staff. With strong clinical skills they raise the bar on patient care, but charge nurses aren't always comfortable with the leadership side of their role.
A focus on charge nurse development can improve employee engagement and patient care. Healthcare organizations that empower charge nurses to lead will achieve better results.
Research has shown that frontline leaders like charge nurses play an important role in keeping team members engaged. They also serve as the first line of defense when there is an upset patient or visitor. These skills can be learned and strengthened through dedicated training.
First, help charge nurses assess their leadership skills by exploring questions such as:
Key Skills that Benefit Patients and Staff
With greater self-awareness, charge nurses will have a better understanding of the key skills they can put to use right away to benefit patients and staff. Training outcomes for charge nurses should include the ability to:
When the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) assessed its training needs in late 2015, nursing leadership recognized a gap in charge nurse development. With no formal tools in place and a somewhat inconsistent structure to the Charge Nurse position, UTMB decided to take action. Catalyst Learning's NCharge® courses were chosen to bring more commonality and consistency to this vital hospital role for both current and aspiring Charge Nurses. To date, 60 participants in three cohorts have completed all five NCharge courses: Charge Nurse Fundamentals; Critical Thinking; Leading Change in a Dynamic Climate; Supervisory Skills for Positive Outcomes; and Employee Engagement & The Patient Experience. Patient Care Facilitators (PCF), who have similar responsibilities to Certified Clinical Nurse Leaders, have also been included in this comprehensive professional development program. Because Charge Nurses often look to PCFs as experts on the patient care experience, UTMB determined that leadership training could equally benefit the PCF role, said Barbara Bonificio, Director of Nursing Excellence. Bonificio added that the NCharge program could become an important asset in a comprehensive health system initiative to increase employee engagement and patient satisfaction. In fact, UTMB leaders believed the program was valuable enough to include some of its relevant results at the unit level in UTMB's recent reapplication for Magnet status.
By putting in place formal training, UTMB hopes to make significant improvements not only in patient satisfaction, but also RN-to-RN communication, nurse sensitive indicators and workflow on the units. Comparisons of participant surveys conducted before classes began and after completion indicate positive movement in critical skills development across several of these areas.
Most notably, when asked if they were cognizant of the key drivers of positive patient experience, only about 65% of respondents strongly agreed when surveyed before taking classes. After completion of the program, more than 85% strongly agreed with that statement. When asked if they understood the linkage between employee engagement and the patient experience, nearly 90% strongly agreed after the course, up from less than 70% before entering the program. Also, only about 60% of respondents strongly agreed they were cognizant of key drivers of an engaged team prior to NCharge. That number jumped to close to 90% after completion.
A Timely Decision
When UTMB launched NCharge in December 2015, hospital staff was preparing to relocate to a new facility and would be faced with a new set of workflows. The program's Leading Change module proved to be timely, as all participants in the class were involved in this major move. One especially valuable component of the Leading Change module educated students about the change curve, demonstrating that workers at different levels in an organization also are at different stages of the curve, said Sharon Hensley, Nursing Program Manager. Those in leadership roles may have already processed a change, while frontline workers may have just been introduced to it. "That was very impactful for them," she said. Prior to taking the Leading Change class, only 55% of survey respondents strongly agreed they were cognizant of their role to assist the team with change management. After completion, nearly 90% strongly agreed. In terms of leadership, 100% of respondents reported strong agreement that they were cognizant of their influence on the attitude and tone of the unit, up from only 60% prior to the class.
Beyond these targeted outcomes, NCharge has been successful in helping to dispel some misconceptions and illuminate different perspectives. For example, before the courses, many participants believed value-based purchasing simply meant that if system departments bought in volume, UTMB got a discount. "The financial impact of value-based purchasing was a real eye-opener for everyone," said Bonificio. "I don't think they realized the significant dollar amounts attached to not being reimbursed, as well as the penalties for not reaching certain targets."
Because each cohort comprised a mix of experienced Charge Nurses and those hoping to land the role, NCharge was beneficial to both groups because they were exposed to each other's perspectives. In addition, the module on types of communication is already being put to use on the floor. "Participants learned the best way to talk to people whose communication styles are different than their own," said Bonificio. Now, graduates are "excited to share the skills they have learned with their units."
Looking to the Future
Reception to the NCharge program has been overwhelmingly positive overall, Hensley said. "There were significant dollars connected to the people being selected, and I think that was impressive to them - that we are investing in them." UTMB nurse leaders are happy with the program response and results so far, and plan to continue offering it to PCFs and Charge Nurses. In fact, they envision further advantages across other nursing roles. "It would be beneficial if all nurses could understand challenges their charge nurse colleagues face," according to Bonificio. "If everyone understood these challenges, it would make the units run much more smoothly."
Administrative assistants - they save you time, money, ensure you're prepared for half a dozen meetings a day and ward off unwanted calls and emails. If you did the math on the amount of time (money) your office assistant saves you in a given week, you'd probably be looking for the same return in all your investments.
The use of medical secretaries in hospitals, physician practices and outpatient facilities is projected to rise by 36% in the next 10 years, reports the US Department of Labor. That's more than RN's, LPN's, Medical Techs or even healthcare IT professionals. [read article]
1. Outstanding office benefits and
2. A strong belief in their own abilities.
So what about the other office support roles in your organization? If you think they can't impact quality or patient satisfaction, you might want to consider this: registrars and schedulers deal with patients that skip appointments, forget their paperwork, and pay their bills late. Medical records clerks and transcriptionists type notes that go into medical files for quality review. And coders contribute to reimbursement through accuracy, timeliness, and their efforts to make the switch to ICD-10. See our special offer on 2.5 hour seminars - good only through April 23rd.
The duties of Patient Service Reps can also have a powerful impact on HCAHPS and operational effectiveness. Last month our newsletter highlighted one organization's work in professionalizing this role. If you missed it, read here.
The duties of Patient Service Reps (PSRs) can have a powerful impact on patient experience and operational effectiveness. This entry level position is often the first point of face-to-face contact for patients. PSRs are not only responsible for being sensitive to the emotional needs of the patient, they also maintain electronic medical records, collect/verify insurance and referral information, and manage the "patient flow" of the waiting area.
Aimed at culture change around PSRs, the award-winning Penn Medicine in Philadelphia set out to professionalize this role by designing and implementing the Patient Service Excellence Academy (learn more here).
Frances Graham, Director Workforce Development at Penn Medicine, led the design of the curriculum. With a multi-team approach, Penn Medicine uses...DOWNLOAD THE STUDY
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