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Nursing Roundup: Top 5 Stories of 2017

Analysis  |  By Jennifer Thew RN  
   December 19, 2017

An annual review on popular nursing topics of 2017, including readmissions, burnout, and the use of APRNs.

This year is soon to be in our rearview mirror, and what a year it's been! We've seen a new president take office, multiple (failed) attempts to repeal the ACA, a shortened health insurance marketplace open enrollment period, higher insurance premiums, and end-of-the-year health system mergers.

The past 12 months have been challenging and, at times, chaotic in the healthcare arena, so you may not have had the chance to delve into all the content, news, and information HealthLeaders Media has to offer. In case you missed them, here are five popular 2017 HLM stories of interest to nurse leaders.

1. Lower Readmissions Linked to Higher Risk of Death

Nurses are major players in trying to prevent avoidable readmissions. But a new study has found the emphasis on reducing 30-day hospital readmissions has inadvertently led to increased risk of death for Medicare patients hospitalized with heart failure.

The study's coauthor Gregg C. Fonarow, MD, a researcher and professor of cardiovascular medicine at UCLA, shares his thoughts on the findings, including how to recalibrate 30-day readmissions to be an accurate metric for value-based, care coordination.

2. Nurse Leaders Face Moral Distress Alone

Just because chief nursing officers are away from the bedside does not mean they are immune to experiencing moral distress—the disequilibrium resulting from the recognition of and inability to react ethically to a situation—finds a qualitative study published in the February 2017 Journal of Nursing Administration.

The study's coauthors Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, and Angela S. Prestia, PhD, RN, NE-BC, discuss the typically taboo subject of moral distress among CNOs and the lasting effects it can have on nurse leaders.  

3. The Nursing Shortage? It's Complicated.

Despite the often-heard warnings that the U.S. is on the verge of a nursing shortage, data predicts that nationally, the country is on the verge of a national nursing surplus.  

"Assuming that Title VIII keeps funding the education and the colleges have faculty, if we keep getting 150,000 new nurses a year over 10 years, that's 1.5 million. [The Bureau of Labor Statistics] says the vacancies are 1.2 million," says Peter McMenamin, PhD, senior policy advisor and health economist at the American Nurses Association.

But that number doesn't tell the whole story. Find out more about the complexities of the nursing workforce and where shortages and surpluses are expected.

4. Beating Clinician Burnout

The prevalence of clinicians experiencing burnout should be cause for concern among healthcare executives. Burnout is not, as many believe, a failing of an individual. Rather, it's a sign something is amiss within an organization. If left unaddressed, healthcare organizations may experience quality, safety, and retention problems.

To have success in the current healthcare environment, healthcare leaders need to do more than simply acknowledge that burnout exists. They need to uncover the root causes of burnout at their organizations and implement systemwide changes to fix it. Read about what healthcare executives did to do just that. 

5.  APRNs Improve Quality Outcomes, Cost of Care

Healthcare executives don't need a crystal ball to predict the current interest in achieving safe, high-quality, cost-effective care that will continue to grow well into the future. To meet the goals of a value-based care environment, organizations around the country are increasing their use of APRNs, and some are already seeing quality outcomes improve as a result.

"You can't function in a silo anymore. Care must be managed and coordinated across the continuum, and who better than the APN to help coordinate that? There are so many different roles that the APN can play in so many different environments. Why not take advantage of the role and allow it to help foster the healthcare system that right now is just so confusing to people?" says Sheryl Slonim, DNP, RN-BC, NEA-BC, APN-C, executive vice president, patient care services and chief nursing officer at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. Learn more about why APRNs are important to quality outcomes.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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