Nurses Urged to Examine Their Changing Role

Rebecca Hendren, November 1, 2011

The three topics on everyone's lips at last week's Nursing Management Congress were:  transforming care delivery, the changing role of nursing, and which show to go to that night.

While the Las Vegas setting provided some much-needed fun for the approximately 1,000 nurse managers and leaders who gathered for education and networking, it was the chance to discuss the pressing issues of healthcare reform and nursing's role that truly electrified the audience.

Keynote speaker Tim Porter-O'Grady told attendees that it's time for nursing to unbundle its work and decide what it will no longer do so that nurses are able to focus on what's most important in the changing face of care delivery.

"We've been too addicted to our protocols and our rituals," said Porter-O'Grady. Nursing can't keep doing what it's been doing in the new world of healthcare reform and value-based purchasing. Instead, it's time to embrace meaningful changes.

Here are the key strategies Porter-O'Grady outlined.

1. Change the new graduate nurse experience

"When millennials first graduate and get into preceptorships, we kill them," said Porter-O'Grady. How? Because we ask the oldest and most experienced nurses to serve as preceptors. Too often these preceptors cannot relate to the younger new grads. "We need to stop precepting and start mentoring," said Porter-O'Grady.

Preceptorships should focus around mentoring relationships that recognize new nurses have as much to teach us as we have to teach them.

2. Lead the next generation of nurses

The current crop of nurse leaders is tasked with leading the next generation into a future we don't understand and that we will never fully occupy, said Porter-O'Grady. By holding onto the past, it becomes an impediment to occupying the future.

Nurse leaders should embrace technology and its ability to revolutionize healthcare, rather than viewing it as something foisted on nursing by others.

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