Nursing at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is led by knowledgeable, strong, risk taking professionals, led a visionary chief nursing executive committed to excellence in patient care. Transparently role modeling the mission, vision and values of MedStar Georgetown has been a constant aspect of her public and personal persona. She rarely speaks to internal or external groups about our experience without referencing our Jesuit heritage. Altruism, “men and women in the service of others” and cura personalis (caring for the whole person) are values of all nursing, nursing at MedStar Georgetown, and the institution itself. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital aspires to be the “trusted leader in caring for people,” the nursing division clearly sees itself as a trusted leader in nursing care. Our CNE embodies this mission. Regardless of the discipline or the level in the organization, everyone acknowledges that she makes every decision based on what is best for the patient. Not incidentally, it turns out that the decision is also best for nursing.
Nursing leaders at all levels of the division are committed to a participative management style, believing that optimal job satisfaction and creativity will result from free exchange of disciplined ideas and efforts. The practice environment that has emerged offers our staff and patients the opportunity to experience the benefits of continually improving nursing care and concomitant outcomes.
The heart of this thriving system is our CNE. Envisioning a patient care system fully staffed by clinical nurses who are leaders, she outlined her expectations of reestablishing MedStar Georgetown’s place as one of the preeminent hospitals and nursing divisions in the country. Her plans are clearly articulated to nursing managers, councils, task forces and in her meetings with staff nurses. By thoroughly supporting a majority BSN nursing workforce, she expected and received ready compliance with her demands for a compassionate, skilled, and intellectually active approach to patient care. Staff nurses were given the tools and expected to draft the second divisional strategic plan. Staff nurses were given resources and have complied with the expectation that they engage in IRB research. Setting high standards and expectations is clearly seen as the first step in developing leaders at every level.
Nursing leadership at all levels recognizes the importance of visibility and accessibility and are on the patient care units everyday. Both directors and managers have personal and first name relationships with their entire staff. The corporate ethic is one of accessibility by all leaders from council members to the CNO. She certainly sets the standard for that.
GUH values professional development and supports the personal as well as professional growth of staff. The emphasis we place on education can be seen through our extensive orientation, in-service and competency-based training, continuing education, formal education, and career development. New nurses at GUH have the advantage of being a part of both Hospital orientation and nursing orientation. Nursing orientation is a comprehensive three-day education session.
After orientation, nurses have numerous educational sessions available to them, both internally and externally. Many programs are in place that promote formal education, professional certification, and career development Principal among these are onsite certification courses, free access to unlimited online continuing education, manager support, flexible scheduling, and significant financial assistance for all types of professional education courses. These extensive resources help nurses in their ongoing pursuit to grow, learn, and develop both personally and professionally.
The benefits of professional organizations are clearly valued by nurses and peers, as can be seen by the large numbers claiming memberships. Board certification of our nurses is part of the strategic plan and numbers have increased dramatically in the past four years. Currently, nearly 400 nurses are certified, including the CNE. Organizational policies were revised in the past two years to support pre-certification preparation courses as well as the cost of examination. Certification is financially incentivised by prominence as a Clinical Ladder element.
MedStar Georgetown clearly values professional development and the multitude of programs in place demonstrate significant commitment to providing a variety of opportunities and outlets for its nurses to enhance their growth.
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is a quality-driven learning organization. The Division of Nursing has structures in place to enable and expect each nurse to participate in ongoing performance improvement (PI). Discussions regarding unit performance and quality initiatives are structured into staff meetings and nurses are conversant with their goals and objectives as well as progress in their efforts. As the expectation for engagement in PI is included in the job description, it is seen as an integral aspect of the clinical nursing role, not something assigned to a particular individual. External benchmarks are sought and used whenever available. Other projects are benchmarked against our own data. Unit councils report progress to the Hospital Nursing PI & Research Council, which in turn reports to the Nursing Quality Council and then to the Executive Quality and Safety Council. Unit and Hospital Nursing PI & Research Councils are populated with staff nurses with management and educator representatives who serve as advisors. The Nursing Quality Council is comprised of managers, educators, and the co-chairs of the Nursing PI & Research Council. Two full time positions support the nursing quality function.
In addition to staff-driven PI initiatives, units engage either singly or collaboratively in nursing research projects that also come from clinical questions at the unit level. The Director of Nursing Research supports individuals and teams as they navigate the process. Each project is submitted to the Georgetown Institutional Review Board (IRB), which contains nursing representation.
Nurses at MedStar Georgetown own this responsibility and take pride in their ability to continually improve nursing care.