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We Don’t Know Everything!

Here is a list of things that nurses are not taught to any great degree in nursing school:

  1. Business Management
  2. Human Resources and management of people
  3. Quality Assurance
  4. Finances (thank you, God)
  5. Information Technology

Can you run an agency without any of these skills from all of your nurses? What have you done to increase your staff’s proficiency in these areas? If you are a nurse, have you taken any steps to educate yourself in these areas?

Years ago, the CEO of a very large, publicly traded health care company, implemented a policy that all business related books purchased by employees would be reimbursed by the company if the employee wrote a brief synopsis of the book and emailed it to him. I never knew if he was just trying to get around reading the books or if he truly wanted his staff to become well versed in business. Either way, I think it is a great idea. It’s pretty cheap, too unless you have a staff of Evelyn Wood’s speed reading graduates.

Is your education budget limited to OASIS and ICD-9 coding? What about PPS? Do your nurses fully understand how PPS works?

Managing people is difficult for many nurses including myself. We are wired to be compassionate. We tend to be too understanding the fifth time a nurse calls out sick after being seen out dancing by a coworker the night before. Putting systems in place that allow nurses to manage effectively helps them to make information based decisions rather than emotional ones. What systems do you have in place?

There is an entire Quality Assurance Industry out there with amazing publications and websites. In fact, there are studies that show that companies like Toyota and Southwest Airlines who spend the most on Quality Assurance are more successful. But before you can truly implement an effective Quality Assurance Plan, your staff must be educated on the processes. A Quality Assurance Nurse or a consultant cannot complete your Quality Assurance activities single handedly.

Cash and finances are not typically thought of a nursing issue until supply bills are too high or utilization is outside the stratosphere. And yet, when you consider that nurses have homes to run, bills to pay, etc., I think it is insulting to exclude us from financial decisions. We do not need to know how to prepare quarterly statements or cost reports but sharing financial data that is directly affected by nursing practices is a reasonable expectation. Agencies may just find that closer attention is paid to high dollar items and waste.

Finally, I cannot tell you how many times I have been called and asked how to download an attachment or found out that numerous emails I sent were never read because a nurse didn’t read email. When I teach Quality Assurance to a nurse and go to show her how to enter data into a spreadsheet, it is not unusual to find that her computer doesn’t have the software. I ask for reports from Lewis Computers which is used almost exclusively around here and no one seems to know what I am talking about even though I received the same report from a different client using the same System. All of this works for me because I am paid by the hour. The question is, does it work for you?

So, in keeping with the theme of staff development this week, I am encouraging you to develop these skills in your nurses. The organizations that hire any nurse with a license and treat nurses like disposable employees will be short lived as the demands on our industry grown tougher. And the agencies with lower turnover and competent staff will enjoy the challenges ahead.

And of course, if you need help establishing a plan to add to the overall competence in your agency, we are always available to assist by simply calling us at 225-2523-4876.

Send me your comments or email me if you have anything to add.

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