Best Minnesota Hospital Workplace: Mercy & Unity Hospitals
FRIDLEY, Minn. 01/18/2006--Mercy & Unity Hospitals recently received the “Best Minnesota Hospital Workplace” award from the Minnesota Hospital Association for a leadership development program for charge nurses.
“These nurses are central to patient care outcomes, patient and staff satisfaction and the retention of health care staff,” said Mary Hennen, Mercy & Unity professional development specialist. “We believe development of our charge nurses’ leadership skills has contributed to a decrease in RN turnover we have experienced since beginning this program in 2004.”
Charge nurses are lead staff nurses who are responsible for patient care units on an hour-by-hour, shift-by-shift basis. They make decisions on behalf of the nurse manager concerning the care and assignment of patients, they support and coach nurses and other co-workers throughout each shift, and in general, both support and influence the environment of care for other patients and staff.
The charge nurse role is widely used in hospitals. However, hospitals have traditionally invested in the leadership skills of formal first-line nurse leaders, such as nurse managers, with less emphasis on leadership development of staff in lead roles such as charge nurses.
More than 200 Mercy & Unity charge nurses have completed the program. Karen Van Hatten, BS, RN, a Unity nurse for 27 years and charge nurse in Women and Children’s Services, says the leadership course taught her skills that school and experience have not.
“Particularly in interpersonal communications,” said Van Hatten. “I have to talk with physicians, my peers, patients and their families. Communication must always be effective and respectful, but without some training, it can be overwhelming.”
The program was based on needs identified by Mercy & Unity charge nurses. It includes four, four-hour modules on communication skills; conflict resolution; leading and supporting co-workers who themselves are at different stages of experience in their careers; setting priorities to promote a shared philosophy of putting patients first, and understanding the components of a healthy work environment, such as employees’ need to balance work and family and manage stress.
Mercy & Unity developed the program in collaboration with Anoka Ramsey Community College as part of a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant. With the program’s success at Mercy & Unity, the hospitals and school began working with the Minnesota Organization of Leaders in Nursing to make training available to others across the state. About 200 nurses from other hospitals across Minnesota have completed the program, and another 300 are registered through June 2006.
In 2004, Mercy & Unity Hospitals won MHA’s Patient Safety Award and its Patient Care Innovation Award.
Mercy & Unity Hospitals, located in Coon Rapids and Fridley, are non-profit hospitals that serve the northern Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Mercy & Unity respond to a wide range of health care needs with specialty services including bariatric surgery, behavioral health, cardiac care, emergency, oncology, orthopedics, neurosciences and women’s and children’s services. The hospitals, which are part of Allina Hospitals & Clinics, are located on the Internet at www.mercyunity.com.