Excellence: Is it a Meaningful Pursuit?
by, 10-08-2010 at 08:22 AM (3282 Views)
In the midst of the 1980s nursing shortage, the American Academy of Nursing embarked on a study to examine why some hospitals acted as magnets that attracted and retained RNs. This seminal work became the foundation for the creation of the Magnet Recognition Program and was based on the premise that better nursing work environments produced better patient outcomes.
Today, the term Magnet is synonymous with excellence.
Over the course of the past 20 years, the number of programs recognizing excellence has grown. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses’ Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes excellence in nursing care provided to critical-care patients. The Emergency Nurses Association’s Lantern Award symbolizes a commitment to quality of care delivered within positive work environments. And the National League of Nursing has established programs to promote and recognize excellence in nursing education.
At its inception, this movement toward excellence was process oriented, focusing on how organizational culture supported the delivery of patient care. Today, we are moving away from the “how” and exploring the “what.” Programs examining excellence are looking at the “intensity of the relationship between process and outcome,” healthcare consultant Tim Porter-O’Grady, DM, EdD, ScD(h), FAAN says.
This natural evolution is driving us to raise the bar on our expectations and standards. Further, it is encouraging the nursing community to engage in a dialogue around the notion of excellence.
There are many examples of excellence, as demonstrated by the 370 Magnet hospitals as well as the growing number of Beacon and Lantern honorees and educational centers of excellence. But the question to consider is whether these are meaningful designations.
According to Beth Ulrich, RN, EdD, FAAN, who has done extensive research about nurses’ perceptions of the work environment, nurses working in organizations striving for excellence are more satisfied and report healthier work environments.
The work of Linda Aiken, RN, PhD, FAAN, FRCN, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania, informs us that improvements in the nursing work environment and efforts to establish a professional practice model result in higher quality of care, both at home and abroad.
Striving for excellence in nursing education, nursing practice or nursing leadership is not just another task, but a meaningful endeavor that ultimately improves the end product — patient care.