Today in the chart

When Facilities Promote Excellent Nursing, the Whole Healthcare Team Improves

Research shows hospitals that actively promote excellent nursing receive higher patient-satisfaction ratings for physicians, as well.

Photo by: Coursera

Many patients believe top-notch care depends on their physicians, but nurses have a much more significant impact in collaborative treatment settings than they might think. For example, it’s been well-documented that high-quality nursing lowers mortality rates, improves patient outcomes, and even boosts revenue.

Research published in Harvard Business Review indicates that facilities actively promoting excellent nursing through magnet programs and other similar initiatives have higher patient satisfaction ratings for their physicians.

To understand the association between nursing and physicians’ care, the authors looked at hospitals that have achieved the “Magnet” designation through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, part of the American Nurses Association.

The Magnet Recognition Program judges hospitals based on nursing leadership, organizational structure, professional development, nurse autonomy, interdisciplinary relationships, and more. Fewer than 10% of US hospitals have earned this status.

The authors also combed through these facilities’ HCAHPS patient satisfaction survey scores and Press Ganey’s database of over 2,000 healthcare organizations. The most significant findings include:

  • Patients at Magnet hospitals were more likely to recommend their treatment facility than those at non-magnet hospitals.
  • Patients believed physicians at Magnet hospitals were more concerned about their questions or worries than those at non-magnets. (Researchers use this metric to assess physicians’ courtesy and respect, listening and explaining.)
  • Patients at Magnet hospitals gave their physicians higher approval ratings for “time spent with you” and “skill of the physician” than those at non-magnets.
  • About 45% of hospitals in the top quartile for physician engagement were Magnet hospitals, compared to only 16% in the bottom quartile.

The results aren’t exactly shocking because receiving a Magnet designation requires the hospital to excel. It does show that prioritizing nurses’ autonomy, relationships, and leadership prompts a ripple effect across all staff, regardless of their title or education.

Tips for Communicating with Physicians as a Nurse

Regardless of whether you work for a Magnet hospital, communicating with physicians can be intimidating, especially for new nurses. Below are some tips to make the interaction better for both of you.

Be Prepared

Know what you want to discuss with the physician and what you hope to gain from talking to them. Making lists can be helpful. Trying to decide whether to call at all? Try this litmus test: What would you want the nurse to do if the patient was your family member or friend?

Collect Your Data Ahead of Time

For starters, know the patient’s diagnosis, allergies, and what medications they’re taking. And be ready to present their latest labs and vitals.

Confidence Is Key

If you’re in person, make eye contact and stand up tall. Also, try to avoid apologizing for calling. It’s part of your job, not to mention physicians don’t feel obligated to apologize when they call nurses. If you receive an attitude, try not to get caught up in it.

Be As Concise as Possible

Try sticking to the Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation (SBAR) style of communication. Break down what has happened, how you believe it started, what’s happening now, and what you’d like to do or need help with.

Focus on Your Patient’s Needs

Ultimately, you seek a physician’s assistance to give your patient the best care possible. If you don’t speak up, then you could be putting your patient at risk. In some circumstances, you may also consider calling the physician at the end of a shift to talk about your treatment decision, even if it didn’t require a call. Charts don’t always tell the whole story.

Document the Communication

As much as possible, write down the interaction time, what was said, and what was done. If the physician acts inappropriately, such as by being condescending or demeaning, don’t hesitate to report the behavior.

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