The nursing priorities 3 hospitals have made the most progress on in 2023 — and how

Erica Carbajal – Thursday, August 10th, 2023

In the first half of the year, hospitals and health systems have been laser focused on efforts to bolster the nursing workforce and have been able to cut down the time it takes from extending offer letters to start dates, expand virtual nursing programs and improve vacancy rates.

Becker’s recently asked three chief nursing officers what nursing challenge or priority their organization has made the most progress on so far this year and how. Their responses below have been lightly edited and are listed in alphabetical order.

Nancy Blake, PhD, RN. Chief Nursing Officer at Los Angeles General Medical Center: At Los Angeles General Medical Center, our mission is to provide world-class care and education, underscoring our commitment to exceptional care and healthy communities. With this mission driving our efforts, our organization has been resolutely focused on addressing the significant staffing challenge while cultivating a thriving work environment.

To improve our staffing situation, we have undertaken proactive recruitment strategies aimed at attracting the best nursing talent to join our team. By engaging with local nursing schools, we take pride in showcasing the outstanding contributions our nurses make to patient care at Los Angeles General Medical Center. Our nurse recruitment team has proven to be a cornerstone in this endeavor, offering unparalleled customer service and ensuring that all candidate inquiries are handled promptly and professionally. Collaborating closely with our Human Resource department, we have streamlined the hiring process, resulting in a substantial reduction in the time it takes to extend offers and establish start dates. What used to take a minimum of four months can now be accomplished in just two to four weeks

In our quest to promote lifelong learning for our nursing staff, we initiated the New Graduate Transition to Practice Program (RN Residency) in October of 2022, through which we have welcomed over 250 new graduates in the last 12 months. Furthermore, our partnership with Health Impact and the grant-funded Apprenticeship into Ambulatory Care has bolstered our recruitment efforts, ensuring we have a well-rounded team to provide exceptional care.

In parallel with our focus on recruitment, we have dedicated significant efforts to enhance staff retention through our Journey to Magnet. By fully implementing Shared Governance, we have empowered our nursing professionals to actively participate in decision-making, tapping into their creativity and innovative ideas for improved practices. Through our Unit Practice Councils, we have created an environment that fosters collaboration and challenges the status quo, allowing us to continually evolve and elevate the quality of care we provide.

To nurture a culture of evidence-based practice, we have actively supported staff participation in the six-month Quality Academy, providing a platform for undertaking evidence-based practice projects mentored by seasoned experts in the field. Moreover, our Evidence-Based Practice Boot Camp has engaged 60 of our staff members, and we are proud to announce the development of a Research Boot Camp, further empowering our nursing community to make significant contributions to the field.

In alignment with our tagline, “Exceptional Care, Healthy Communities,” we are committed to promoting wellness initiatives among our nursing staff. By actively participating in ANA’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation campaign, we emphasize the importance of well-being for our caregivers, knowing that a healthy workforce directly translates into exceptional care for our patients. Additionally, we take pride in the accomplishments of our cardiothoracic ICU nurses, who participated in AACN’s CSI Academy and focused their project on fostering a healthy work environment, particularly emphasizing meaningful recognition. This initiative reflects our unwavering dedication to creating a work environment that supports and uplifts our staff, ultimately leading to even better patient outcomes.

Through our steadfast focus on addressing staffing challenges, fostering a thriving work environment, and promoting evidence-based practices, we are confident in our ability to overcome obstacles and continue delivering compassionate and exceptional care to our patients.

Catherine Fernald, DNP, RN. Acute Care Chief Nursing Officer at ChristianaCare (Newark and Middletown campuses in Delaware): At ChristianaCare, we have in less than one year tremendously expanded our use of virtual nursing. We went from a pilot program of 16 beds between two different nursing units to today more than 500 beds now virtually monitored by nurses at each of ChristianaCare’s Christiana Hospital and Wilmington Hospital. The  program is staffed by highly experienced nurses who manage admissions, discharges, call light triggers and all manner of nursing issues that can occur during a hospital bedside nurse’s shift, enabling those nurses to physically devote more time and focus on their patients. Reflecting on our health system’s commitment to use resources wisely and effectively while continuously looking for ways to innovate, ChristianaCare’s virtual nursing program has improved patient care, patient experience and provider experience while reducing costs.

Launette Woolforde, EdD, DNP. Deputy Chief Nursing Officer at Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): An area where Northwell Health has made significant progress is in nursing recruitment and retention. The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many challenges, with the most pressing being loss of life. The toll that the pandemic took was multifaceted and included major changes to the workforce. National turnover and vacancy rates skyrocketed to levels we had not seen before, peaking at approximately 25 percent nursing turnover and upwards of 15 percent vacancy in nursing positions.

At Northwell, we’ve prioritized flexibility as well as growth and professional development opportunities. Across our settings we offer various scheduling options so nurses can achieve their professional goals and make lifestyle adjustments without ever leaving the health system. Furthermore, we prioritize healthy work environments through our stress and well-being programs and nurses are included in decision-making through our shared governance council structure.

Finally, our attention to ensuring pathways for students through academic affiliations and focusing on the transition to practice experience has been instrumental with both recruitment and retention. Northwell has a nursing turnover of approximately 10 percent and vacant RN positions are also at a low rate of 4.5 percent.