“When I think about all the patients and their loved ones whom I have worked with over the years, I know most of them don’t remember me nor I them, but I do know that I gave a little piece of myself to each of them and they to me, and those threads make up the beautiful tapestry in my mind that is my career in nursing.”
- Donna Wilk Cardillo, MA, RN, FAAN
Rush nurses are known as pioneers, innovators and high-quality care providers who always put patients’ best interests at the forefront. One of the many things that makes me a proud Rush nurse is the culture that we have created at the Medical Center. We are autonomous, empowered and always striving to drive the nursing profession forward. This past year has been one of the most unprecedented times in health care history, and it has been an honor and privilege to serve as the president-elect of the Professional Nursing Staff. As we look to the future, it is essential to recognize what we have accomplished together. It is with great pride and admiration that I share with you the achievements of our nursing colleagues this past year.
In the last annual report, we detailed how Rush nurses were hard at work preparing to attain the Magnet designation. The Magnet program identifies health care organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence, including outcomes, and is the highest national honor for the professional nursing practice. During an inspiring three-day virtual visit with the Magnet appraisers in August 2020, we impressed them with our stories, projects and powerful Rush spirit. Two months later, Rush received its fifth consecutive Magnet designation. This was a proud moment for Rush nursing, as the Medical Center is the only hospital in Illinois providing care to both adults and children to have achieved Magnet status five times. This is certainly a testament to the dedication and daily contributions of our nurses.
As we continued to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, shared governance remained front and center to ensure that nurses were engaged advocates for their patients and practice. The Clinical Ladder Program experienced changes in its process and structure, e.g., reinforcing an electronic portfolio and making checklist revisions, but its mission remained the same: to promote professional growth, provide mentorship and elevate the work of the clinical nurse. The program provided an opportunity for nurses to share their accomplishments on a wider platform and make connections throughout the organization.
As members of the Professional Nursing Staff, nurses are offered enhancement funds, an educational assistance benefit that can be used toward professional development. Due to the pandemic, large gatherings such as conferences were put on hold. Bright minds in the Emergency Department Unit Advisory Committee suggested expanding the enhancement funds to cover professional organization membership, an idea that was quickly approved by nursing’s senior leadership. This is shared governance in action and a prime example of how the clinical nurses’ ideas impact their practice.
One of the biggest accomplishments of PNS this fiscal year has been the rollout of Charting by Exception by the PNS Documentation Committee. Charting by Exception was a collaboration among the committee of staff nurses, clinical nurse specialists, educators and Epic analysts throughout the Rush System. This was a big win for nursing. The change helped optimize flowsheets for physical assessments, allowed for integration across flowsheets and decreased the documentation burden for normal assessments. But most importantly, it led to an increase in the amount of time spent by nurses at the bedside providing patient care.
To remain aligned with the Division of Nursing’s service line reaggregation, PNS restructured its own Departmental Advisory Committees (DAC) to accurately reflect these changes. For the first time in Rush history, all four adult critical care units were combined under one service line. This led to the creation of the Critical Care DAC to promote collaboration, communication and unity. In addition, medicine units, behavioral health and the Emergency Department were brought together to improve the patient care continuum. An in-depth evaluation of all DACs was completed to ensure proper membership with equal representation from all disciplines, and ad hoc members were enlisted to promote crossover among all of the service lines. Meeting length and agendas were structured to allow time for discussion. As a result, all DACs are now staff-led with standardized meeting durations and agendas throughout.
Rush nursing thrives on the tradition of shared governance and the philosophy that we have the power to transform our practice, and this past year was nothing short of extraordinary. To highlight just a few of the accomplishments of this team is always a challenge. What we as nurses view as daily tasks and expertise from years of experience has proved to be acts of heroism to the outside world.
To all my fellow nurses: be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished in this profession. Stay loud about the things that matter. The world has seen what we’re capable of, and we’re just getting started.
Justine K. Alipio, BSN, RN, CCRN
President-Elect President, Professional Nursing Staff