By V. Dion Haynes, Washington Post Staff Writer
Nurse Jennifer Dimmick helped her 71-year-old patient, George Mulligan, struggle from a chair to his feet for his daily walk around the corridor outside his room at Inova Fairfax Hospital.
During the previous three days following Mulligan’s aortic valve replacement surgery, Dimmick was preparing him to care for himself after his discharge — demonstrating how he should gingerly lift himself when he rises for his walks so that he won’t damage his incision and playing videotapes that show him how to dress the wound to prevent infection and how to use a breathing device so that he won’t get pneumonia. The hospital introduced the education program after Dimmick and other nurses discovered an unusually high readmission rate for heart patients.
Like hospitals around the country, Inova is grappling with a nursing shortage that is projected to worsen over the next two decades. Hospitals increasingly are responding with a new recruitment and retention strategy — giving nurses like Dimmick much more say in their patients’ care.
Five years ago, hospitals waged intense bidding wars to fill nursing vacancies, luring nurses with huge signing bonuses and even sport-utility vehicles and vacations to the Bahamas. Those efforts often only served to exacerbate turnover, spurring nurses to remain in jobs just long enough to claim the prizes before moving to other hospitals with better incentives.
As it turns out, many nurses want better working conditions more than they do extra money. Hospitals now are responding by introducing technology to dramatically reduce paperwork, offering more flexible hours, reducing caseloads, paying for advanced training and giving them more authority.
“Autonomy is a big thing,” said Dimmick, who has been at the hospital for 7 1/2 years. “It’s important for me to know that what I do matters.”
Inova Fairfax recently introduced a state-of-the-art data system — consisting of video monitors and other equipment that track the vital signs of intensive care patients — to reduce the amount of time nurses spend filling out paperwork. It also has established a concierge that offers such services as dry cleaning, movie tickets and car detailing for busy nurses trying to juggle their professional and personal lives.
Inova is part of a nationwide movement. These days, nurses at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., for instance, set their own schedule and have a say in what type of equipment should be purchased and whether patient-staff ratios need to be adjusted.
“Having the option to voice an opinion is amazing,” said Jana Schlosser, a nursing education coordinator at the hospital. Continue reading Apa yang diinginkan Perawat / What Nurses Want