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Bold Solutions to Empower Nurses

Sixty-four percent of nurses say they feel stressed, according to a newly updated survey by the American Nurses Foundation. While nurses play a vital role in health care, many do not feel supported. In fact, only 12 percent of nurses said they felt empowered in the two weeks before being surveyed.

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The Foundation’s survey, which is in its third year of determining changes and further impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nurses, shows us why there need to be widespread changes that support and empower nurses to stay in the profession.

“Nurses, like many health professionals, are paying a personal price for holding together this broken health care system—they can’t do it anymore, and they shouldn’t have to,” said the American Nurses Foundation Executive Director Kate Judge. “While we have the potential to make great strides in health care, it can’t be achieved without the people who provide a vast majority of care—and that’s nurses. They need resources that go far beyond what we as a society have been providing them,” Judge added.

That is why the American Nurses Foundation’s Reimagining Nursing Initiative is transforming how the industry supports nurses by resourcing them during a critical time in health care. The Initiative is funding bold projects developed and led by nurses, and the ideas tested can address issues within the profession, like nurse burnout and staffing shortages. Of the nurses surveyed in the Foundation’s Pulse of the Nation’s Nurses survey in November 2022, 29 percent said insufficient staffing was the reason they changed positions in the last six months. The Reimagining Nursing Initiative is approaching these challenges through its pilot projects.

For example, Driving Nursing Outcomes through Robotics, led by ChristianCare, hopes to offload some tasks that stretch nurses thin. Nurses are expected to do it all, meaning they can often spend up to 33 percent of their shifts on routine tasks like looking for and getting supplies and dropping off lab specimens. This prevents nurses from spending more time doing what they do best: caring for and educating patients.

With support from the Foundation and its funders, Christianacare is deploying its collaborative robots or “cobots” to assist nurses in carrying out tasks that pull them from the bedside. The cobot named “Moxi” is equipped with artificial intelligence and learns from existing systems, allowing nurses to seamlessly integrate Moxi into their work. Moxi is designed to collaborate with nurses—not replace them or make their jobs harder. By assisting nurses and care teams, ChristianaCare’s project is working to improve day-to-day conditions that often cause nurse burnout.

Workforce shortage and staffing issues need immediate and long-term solutions. Chamberlain University’s Practice-Ready. Specialty-Focused ™ Nurse Education Model prepares the next generation of nurses to stay in the profession by exposing students to different specialties. One reason why new nurses quit within the first year is that they lack the experience and confidence to practice within their specialty. Chamberlain believes allowing students to immerse themselves in a specialty during nursing school will result in students finding the right match for their interests and skills. Through this project, Chamberlain has added two free and optional specialty courses to their existing nursing model: a perioperative nursing program, which has graduated more than 300 students since its inception. More than 50 of those students are currently enrolled in their clinicals; and Introduction to Continuing Health, a home health nursing program that begins in May. This approach can lead to newer nurses staying in the profession and decrease first-year turnover rates.

Supporting future nurses means supporting their transition from nursing school to practice. The Big 10 Practice Ready Nursing Initiative does this by giving nursing students a hands-on clinical experience in a low-risk environment. This project uses immersive virtual reality simulation to teach nursing students how to provide quality care for multiple and diverse patients. By offering experiences that genuinely reflect what can happen in a complex care environment, nursing students will understand potential challenges and develop critical decision-making skills that better equip them to meet complex health care demands.

The findings from the Foundation’s survey validate the consistent call for sustainable changes to the nursing profession. The projects supported by the Foundation’s Reimagining Nursing Initiative are working in real-time to answer those calls. The Initiative’s approach, and the projects funded, can create bold, wholesale scalable solutions that empower nurses—leading to better health outcomes for all.

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