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July 18, 2018

By: Roric P. Hawkins MBA, BSN, RN

Adapting leads to outcomes

In our efforts to bring about effective change to our workplace processes, too often we overlook ourselves as the reason why our initiatives sometimes fail to progress at the pace we prefer them to. We spend limitless amounts of time contemplating why staff is failing to respond to our efforts, when all the while we are essentially failing to respond to staff. Meaning, we tend to spend more of our time trying to convince staff that we are right and that our evidence-based methods are fluent, opposed to partnering to find the common ground that exists between what connects our theories to staff’s daily workflow and work routines.

Until we decide to put aside our stubbornness and work with our employees, we will continue to struggle as younger generation staff criticize our methods through their actions by not responding to our efforts. We must learn to work with their approach to patient care should we expect to achieve the outcomes we are looking for.

Finding common ground

I know I’m going to get a lot of push back for this blog but I’m writing it anyway. I have been highly critical of many recent observations of nursing practice, concluding that its critical thinking component has slowly begun to disappear. In a computer-driven society where technology and social media rule the day, I am often left with the impression that nurses today tend to be more fixated on charting and documentation, rather than looking, assessing, and observing their patients. I am even guilty of sometimes accusing nursing schools of becoming more absorbed in teaching students how to write for their nursing boards and examinations, rather than spending the necessary time needed to teach students how to critically apply their observations and assessments to their nursing practice.

These are my personal views, but they don’t negate the fact that as safe patient handling coordinators, we must learn to place our philosophical differences aside in order to incorporate our wisdom and injury prevention processes into current nursing practice standards. Though I recognize that at times this can be a challenge for us earlier generation nurses, it remains a reality that cannot be ignored should we expect to effectively implement our initiatives amongst younger nursing generations.

I’m not in any way suggesting that we forego the practice values that made us prudent and reputable nursing professionals. However, I am suggesting that we become more open and creative as it relates to bridging our critical thinking, hands-on approach with more technically savvy nursing professionals. Perhaps all along it’s been our lack of openness to today’s nursing professional that has made it difficult for us to transition mechanical patient-lifts into current practice processes.

Processes are not absolutes

As we contemplate relevant strategies for implementing our safe patient handling programs, the days of considering training and education as an exclusive means for creating outcomes represents nothing more than a lack of creativity and ideas, along with an inability to innovate. Although our primary focus for implementations is to create meaningful outcomes, we sometimes stagnate progress by allowing our self-imposed boundaries to override our overarching goal of achieving results.

If we acknowledge that evidenced-based practices are not necessarily absolutes, we improve our chances of discovering the built-in flexibilities within those practices that will help us adapt them to the most challenging of situations. It remains, however, our responsibility as implementation experts to make processes work in accordance with the environments in which we intend for them to exist. It is our responsibility to figure out the most efficient way to reach our stated objectives by either creating new processes when indicated or by making current processes more innovatively pragmatic; something that staff will actually commit to.

Achieving balance

Finding the balance between theory and reality is the key to achieving long-lasting, meaningful results. It serves our best interest as experts to spend most of our energies discovering that balance. To effectively roll out our programs and processes, we must actively seek to align our methods to what our employees are most likely to relate to. Though theoretical processes tend to be more appealing when we review them on paper, the reality of bringing them to life requires that we understand the workplace environment includes the people who work within it.

Roric P. Hawkins is the founder and president of The RP Hawkins Group (therphawkinsgroup.com) and is the safe patient handling coordinator at Michael E. DeBakey VAMC in Houston, TX. The views expressed here are his own.

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