Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Are the “Seven Nursing Truths” Truthful? (Part I)

Recognizing that our nursing professionals—their leadership, qualities and skill sets—are critical for the CHRISTUS Health ministry to reach the goals on our Journey to Excellence, I was most intrigued by a recent article appearing on the Reflections on Nursing Leadership magazine’s Website, entitled “What Nursing Leaders Know: Seven Truths From top Health Care Professionals.” It is most important for CEOs of health systems today to clearly understand, as the author tried to do through interviews, what top nurse leaders believe are the important issues in the nursing profession. After careful and reflective review, I thought it would be worthwhile to share my perspective on each of the truths. I will address truths 1-3 in this blog post and truths 4-7 in next week’s post.

1. A nursing shortage really does exist. I believe the shortage is often overstated. Whenever we have “nursing shortages” in a patient care delivery setting, we are able to have a contract nurse to fill the slot. I think that if all the nurses filling more lucrative contracted positions would take permanent employment somewhere, the perceived shortage would quickly diminish. In addition, because of the layoffs in many other industries due to the global economic crisis, more students are applying to nursing schools. When trained, having put forth the money and time, they will not leave a profession where there is much greater job stability.

2. We need a stronger model for developing and grooming nurse leaders. I agree 100 percent. Because most people leave organizations because they do not respect their “boss,” retaining good nurses depends on great nursing leaders. That is why CHRISTUS includes nurses in all our leadership training, including coaching and mentoring classes, the CHRISTUS Center for Management Excellence (along with a special section for nursing leaders, the CHRISTUS Center for Nurse Leaders), leadership academies and succession planning.

3. It is about the money. Our leadership team would say it is only partly about the money. The U.S. health care system is failing not because it has an unsustainable cost structure, but because it does not provide incentives to pursue a Journey to Excellence—like the one CHRISTUS is on—which commits them to achieving metrics on a balanced scorecard in four directions (clinical quality, service quality, business literacy and community value). Yes, having a viable business model to assure sufficient cash is most important, but only if this goal is used to support the three other directions driven by the ministry’s mission.

Please join me next week for my take on nursing truths #4-7.

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