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The healthcare team.

Do you ever feel like you are the only one who cares about your patients? We all do at some point--but we know that is not true. Why do we feel that way? When do you feel that way? Does it matter what your practice setting is?

When I talk to nurses across the state of Georgia and colleagues in other states, the shortage of nurses is usually in the topic of conversation. More importantly, the shortage of nurses in direct patient care is past being a concern and has become a crisis for most organizations. There are two parts to this crisis: the need for more new graduates and the one not discussed as much--the need for retention of outstanding nurses at the bedside.

The lack of qualified, competent nurses is scary for all those involved, but do you know that the other members of the healthcare team are having the same problems? Whether it is the EMTs, pharmacists, physical therapists, dieticians or nurses, there are just not enough well-educated, qualified personnel to replace those that are leaving their positions. So what does that mean for us--the Healthcare Team? What can WE do?

First and foremost, WE all must recognize that we are part of the problem; therefore, we must be part of the solution! Nurses are the largest component of the healthcare team which means that we must immediately take responsibility for keeping ALL of the qualified, competent and caring healthcare professionals in the workforce. How do we do that? Through respect, creativity and flexibility!

Every nurse I meet can tell me a horror story of how poorly they have been treated by other nurses or others in the healthcare field. The verbal abuse that we inflict on each other is extremely distressing. But it doesn't stop there! I have witnessed nurses being arrogant around other members of the Healthcare Team. Yet, each person that "touches" the patient has key information. Are we listening? When the EMS team transports a critical patient, do we give these specially educated and highly trained individuals the respect they deserve when they try to give us their report? Do we stop to get the critical details from these team members who may have just risked their own lives to save OUR patient? Do we ask the right questions or just assume we are the only professional that understands the patient?

Do we treat our nursing students and faculty with respect? Are we making sure that their educational experiences are the best they can be? Are we making sure that the culture in our units, departments and facilities is welcoming, respectful and professional? How do we monitor that? Are you always treated with the respect that you feel you deserve? Do you treat all the members of the Healthcare Team with the respect that they deserve?

Nurses always refer to the patients as "our patient" or "my patient." Yet, it takes a team to provide the care necessary for patients, regardless of the practice setting. As nurses, do we recognize the contributions that these hard working professionals provide? Do we recognize other nurses for the contributions that they make every day, along with the actions that are obviously above and beyond the expected? Most facilities celebrate Nurses' Week in May, but is that enough? The retention of our best and brightest nurses should be our number one priority! (My last column discussed the appropriate ways to mentor our newest members to our profession.)

New research is being shared everyday about ways to keep our experienced (mature) nurses in the workplace. As the workforce continues to age, the workplace must be redesigned to facilitate the expectations and needs of these veterans. No-Lift policies and equipment will enable more nurses to stay at the bedside (www.nursingworld.org). Work hours need to be re-evaluated as nurses find themselves unwilling or unable to work long, physical hours doing direct patient care. Two very well respected national organizations have recently released reports on this topic--the Center for American Nurses' (www.centerforAmerican nurses.org) "Workplace of the Future: Spotlight on the Mature Nursing Workforce" report to the White House Council on Aging and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (www.rwjf.org) "Report Evaluates Knowledge of How to Retain Older Nurses in Bedside Practice." Every organization should be focusing their resources on the processes that will keep our experienced nurses (and other members of the Healthcare Team) within the workforce--providing the leadership and guidance that we all need.

But all the retention policies and programs will not produce the results that are needed, if we do not treat all members of the Healthcare Team with the respect and dignity that they deserve and desire. Whether you work in a one person position or an organization with thousands--each member of our team--the Healthcare Team--is vital to our systems--or they would not be there!!

I would like to publicly thank all the members of the Healthcare Team because it takes each of you doing your best everyday to provide the outstanding care that is expected and needed by our patients. Know that your dedication and hard work is being noticed and appreciated!

So my challenge to all of us: treat your colleagues with respect, admiration and professionalism! They (we) deserve it! Make sure YOU recognize at least one person each day with a word of appreciation--each of us must make the members of the Healthcare Team realize that they are valued for what they bring to the patients and to us, the caregivers. The solution to our problems begins with us.

Linda R. Easterly RN, BSN, MS

President
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Easterly, Linda R.
Publication:Georgia Nursing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2006
Words:937
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