3 Ways to Address Nursing Underperformance

Michelle Wilson Berger for HealthLeaders Media, August 1, 2012

This article appears in the July 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

You've selected the standards against which you'll measure your nurses. What happens if an individual or a unit misses the mark? Terri Veneziano, MSN, RN, former CNO at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital; Donna Poduska, MS, RN, Poudre Valley Hospital CNO; and Bridget Johnson, vice president of patient services at Parkview Whitley Hospital, offer three pointers.

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1. Get to the root of the problem. If a nurse runs into trouble, Poduska asks her team to determine whether it's a process or individual issue. For example, if someone receives low scores for communication, is it because she's shy or due to how the facility's patient handoffs occur? "Usually, not every time, but usually," Poduska says, "it's a system problem that's causing the result and not a problem caused by an individual."

2. Determine whether the problem was intentional or due to oversight. Johnson recommends giving the person the benefit of the doubt; it's the rare nurse who blatantly disregards or violates safety processes, she says. "There are many things you have to weigh. You certainly have human factors."

3. Be candid and open. "We are very transparent with a lot of data," Veneziano says. "[Our nurses] know what they have to work on." And through the hospital's performance improvement analysts, they get real-time, peer-to-peer recommendations and the opportunity to make immediate changes.

This article appears in the July 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

See Also:

Nurse Quality Check

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