Experience isn't about mollycoddling patients, however, or how flashy the in-room entertainment system is and that's what you need to help nurses understand. In fact, the nurse-patient relationship has always been about patient experience.
Your best nurses instinctively know this. They already create a good patient experience. They help patients understand their care, involve families in decision-making, coordinate multidisciplinary care, sit with patients to explain complex diagnoses, and even, occasionally, have time to offer a quick hug or hand to hold. These are the nurses who get letters from patients and families after discharge and these letters are all about the patient experience.
This is how you need to phrase patient experience with nursing staff so they understand it's not just a program, but a way of life. At the same time, nursing needs to own the cause. They may not be responsible for it in isolation, but they are literally at the center of this issue. They should take the lead and drive the agenda.
In this column from September, I outlined 10 ways to help nurses improve patient satisfaction.
Just as nurses should own patient experience, they need to feel ownership for patient safety as well. I wrote last month that "quality improvement becomes one more meaningless directive from 'above' unless nurses feel engaged in the process, involved in the plans, and accountable for the results."
Preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAI) is no longer simply the right thing to do, it's become the only financially viable option. Unless nurses are educated and empowered, real progress cannot be made.
Nursing knows that hiring freezes and layoffs are a constant threat and healthcare organizations are forced to put cost cutting at the top of the agenda in 2012. As the largest budget in the organization, nursing is an easy target.