On any given day, nurses are innovating and improving care in ways big and small. Sometimes our ideas are aimed at helping just one patient, perhaps offering a novel approach to overcoming a particularly vexing symptom. Other times, our ideas can have a widespread and lasting effect. Take, for example, the Kansas nurse who, after seeing a rental-car employee use a handheld scanner, helped launch barcode technology at Veterans Affairs facilities as a way to improve medication administration to patients.
Nurses’ innovative thinking and significant contributions may go unrecognized, in part because we tend to consider our "do-whatever-it-takes" attitude as just part of being a good nurse. However, with federal agencies, policymakers, and healthcare facility administrators demanding new ways to improve quality and lower costs, we need to recognize our own strengths as innovators and share our ideas on multiple platforms. And we need to celebrate all that we do on behalf of our patients and the greater healthcare world.
To reflect our current healthcare environment and our role in making it better, ANA chose "Delivering Quality and Innovation in Patient Care" as the theme of this year’s National Nurses Week. But we really kicked off our celebration of quality and innovation earlier this year, when several hundred nurses and other quality-focused professionals attended ANA’s 7th Annual Nursing Quality Conference. At that event, ANA recognized the nursing staff at six hospitals that participate in our National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® program for their achievements in quality. One award-winning and Magnet® hospital, for example, was the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The nurses there reduced patient falls dramatically by performing safety huddles at the beginning of each shift to identify risks and implement specific strategies, such as using bed alarms and making hourly assessments. Other hospitals made great strides in reducing infections and preventing pressure ulcers—two other proven areas where quality nursing care makes a huge difference.
What I think they all have in common, however, is a willingness to ask some basic, yet key, questions: How can we do this better? What if we tried it this way? Is this really the best practice?
This curiosity and the quest for answers are being played out in nursing education programs and healthcare settings all around the country. Let me give you a couple of examples. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing has designed its Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation specifically to build a spirit of inquiry in selected students—with the ultimate goal of producing the next generation of nurse scientists who have the knowledge and research skills to solve complex health problems and improve patient care. Through its Staff Nurse Research Fellowship Program, the Magnet®-designated Children’s Hospital Los Angeles offers nurses the time and resources to pursue their ideas to advance patient care and nursing practice.
I ask all of you to continue to let your curiosity be your guide and share your creative and practical ideas broadly. Participate in unit-based and housewide committees looking at innovation and quality improvement, contribute to or conduct research that can lead to best practices, participate in poster sessions and professional association meetings where you can share what works and what does not—and be recognized for your achievements. At ANA, we have webinars and other resources that can help you build your skills in leadership, communication, and research. You can check them out on our website www.nursingworld.org.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you for all that you do every day. It makes me proud to be part of the nursing profession.
Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN
President, American Nurses Association