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To Boost Patient Satisfaction Scores, Engage Nurses

Rebecca Hendren, for HealthLeaders Media, January 4, 2011

“To generalize: Nurses are warm, whereas doctors are cool. Nurses act like real people; doctors often act like aristocrats. Nurses look you in the eye; doctors stare slightly above and to the right of your shoulder.”

Nurses find whatever time they can spare so they can interact with their patients and the organization should recognize the value of these interactions. Too often, hospitals haven’t been talking about patient satisfaction with their staff in the right way.

There needs to be a shift in the conversation:

  • Try focusing on the innate nursing qualities that mean so much to patients and that make the difference between a good stay and a bad one.
  • Help nurses understand that patient satisfaction scores are not dependent on whether the TV shows HBO or the nursing staff act as waitresses.
  • Convey to nurses the idea that asking them to focus on patient satisfaction is not about adding tasks to their day; rather, it is valuing what nurses already do and helping them find ways to do more of the good stuff.

Changing the nature of the conversation and involving nursing in the solutions may make more difference to patients emotional and physical care—and thus the patient satisfaction scores—than any gourmet food tray ever could.


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.

Comments are moderated. Please be patient.

5 comments on "To Boost Patient Satisfaction Scores, Engage Nurses"


Audun (2/6/2013 at 11:55 PM)
"By definition, no one should enjoy their stay." I might be old fashion, but I can't help to see patients well being with a different mindset. Despite being in a unfortunate condition, patients can still be serviced to a degree where they DO "enjoy their stay" considering their situation. If you believe you are giving the highest quality care, but the patient do not perceive so, then you have not communicated your care deep enough. These things should be monitored continuously, using a real-time survey system (for example like https://www.caretotell.com/ipad-survey-app/) so that whenever a certain variable drops, you can be notified in real-time and see what there is to do about it. A quarterly HCAHPS doesn't really get the job done. It's just too late.

Angela Fischer Kramer, RN, BSN, CNOR, CASC (3/18/2011 at 2:55 PM)
As an Administrator and RN I am happy to report I have never seen the "eye-roll" you mention when speaking with other nurses about patient satisfaction. In fact, patient satisfaction motivates nurses. In other words, the goal of our work is to help the patient, ultimately resulting in their satisfaction. You see, hospital staff nurses care for the patient and their family for up to 12 hours straight. They often build genuine relationships that result in good 'ole patient satisfaction. The statement: "Help nurses understand that patient satisfaction scores are not dependent on whether the TV shows HBO or the nursing staff act as waitresses" is insulting to nurses. They already know what patient satisfaction is and exactly how to achieve it. Registered Nurses are extremely educated, autonomous, and very involved in creating positive outcomes for patients. The physician may be perceived as the leader of the health care team but, in my opinion, for every physician there are a few nurses in the background truly calling the shots. Nurses do not need to be "talked down" to. We understand administration's need for surveys and graphs that reflect patient satisfaction results and while I have choosen to dabble in administration, I will let my staff nurses carry on with the caring they do so well and save those surveys and graphs for CMS.

Shelly, RN (1/5/2011 at 4:29 PM)
I agree with you that nurses are a vital part of patient satisfaction, but where I work I have not see the "eye rolling" as you put it. I am rather insulted by that premise. I am not sure where you have worked as a staff nurse but I have never seen that attitude in any of my co-workers. I work in a hospital where nurses are afforded the time to actually care for patients. This is what it takes for patient satisfaction and patient safety. But to the contrary the administration where I work wants to add to the number of patients nurses care for which will decrease patient satsfaction and decrease patient safety. It sounds as if you think the administration needs to just change their words in the conversation inorder to convince nurses to see things their way. Administration needs to listent to the nurses.