Nurse Executives Focus on Complexity of Care Delivery

Rebecca Hendren, April 19, 2011

The average nurse is in cognitive overload, completing about 100 tasks per shift with an interruption every three minutes. At its annual meeting, the American Organization of Nurse Executives' put the spotlight on the current nature of nursing work to see how care delivery can be reshaped.

The sunny skies of San Diego proved an ideal setting for an upbeat meeting of the AONE  annual convention last week. The nurse executives weren't letting uncertainty over healthcare reform dampen their moods. They arrived at the conference ready to learn from each other and share best practices for reshaping care delivery in the era of cost containment, increasing regulation, scrutiny, and accountability.

The well-attended conference focused on healthcare transformation within four areas: care delivery and sustainability, leading for the future, patient safety and quality, and leveraging technology.

I attended a fascinating presentation by Mary Sitterding, PhDc, RN, CNS, director, nursing research and professional practice at Indiana University Health, and Patricia Ebright, PhD, RN, CNS, associate dean of the Indiana University School of Nursing.

These nurses have conducted a great deal of research about the complexity of nursing work and they shared some interesting statistics.

Nurses are subject to a ridiculous amount of interruptions during their shifts, such as patients and families asking questions, colleagues needing assistance, or having to track down supplies. These interruptions mean nurses lose an average of 2.1 hours each day, which costs the U.S. economy $508 billion annually.

Rebecca Hendren Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at
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