The Kentucky Derby was front and center this past weekend. Many folks across the country spend weeks scrambling to pick the right hat for that annual event in Lexington, KY. Here’s hoping your horse delivered, and that you looked fabulous in your Derby hat while cheering the steed to the winners circle.
As we begin National Nurses Week, it’s appropriate that we talk about different kinds of hats. And I don’t mean the nurses hats of yesterday. I mean the many, many hats today’s nurses often find themselves wearing simultaneously as they do their indispensable work.
The nurse’s hat tree overflows! Might I be so bold as to suggest that nurses are “multi-hatters”?
The list below is but a sample of hats you’ll find on the nurses’ hat tree:
- The Caregiver Hat – This hat comes to mind most easily when thinking about the role of nurses. We generally think of activities in which nurses engage: assisting in surgery, participating in codes, administering medications or starting IVs. However, caregiving goes beyond that. Wearing the Caregiver Hat, nurses deliver the technical aspects of care with strength (nursing is not for the faint of heart), empathy and patience. Nurses rarely remove the Caregiver Hat during the workday.
- The Patient Advocate Hat – Nurses in hospitals have the most contact with patients. So they are in the best position to serve as the liaison among patients, families and other healthcare team members, as well as providers and services outside the acute care setting. The Patient Advocacy Hat encompasses the core values of ensuring patient equality, preserving human dignity and striving to relieve suffering.
- The Quality Enforcer Hat – Although few nurses have the title of chief quality officer, we all know that it is nurses who ensure that quality care is delivered. Through adhering to bundles, evidence-based guidelines and regulatory standards, nurses provide safe and effective care. While wearing the Quality Enforcer Hat, nurses ensure compliance with standards of care and speak up about unsafe or concerning practices. Many supports for this hat are encompassed in Premier’s Quality Cycle Management solution.
- The Safety Hat – Healthcare delivery is complicated, often perilous. Nurses are also responsible for ensuring the safety of the patients they care for. Patients are often at risk. Nurses must give patients the right medications at the right time. They must do all they can to prevent falls. An older patient with mild dementia can wake up in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar room in a hospital. Who knows what can happen then? Surgical nurses are part of the team that makes sure surgery patients have the correct procedure to the correct part of the body. Nurses in the nursery are duty-bound to safeguard against mixing up babies in their care. The Safety Hat never comes off!
- The Educator Hat – Many believe that nurses derive a great deal of job satisfaction while wearing the Educator Hat. Teaching is a core competency of a nurse’s practice. Successful education by nurses can improve health outcomes, reduce admissions and/or readmissions, decrease harm, improve patient and family satisfaction, and reduce costs. Effective teaching is a skill. That skill includes many aspects: teaching what’s necessary, teaching at the “right time,” understanding learning levels, and defining goals and objectives, just to name a few. Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Nurses practice these principles day in and day out.
- The Professional Student Hat – Nurses will wear the Professional Student Hat more often than not during their careers. The Professional Practice Model views learning as a “lifelong process essential to the growth and development of clinicians striving to deliver quality patient care.” Just to become a nurse begins with a rigorous education process. Then there are orientations, mandatory continuing education for licensure, annual certifications for practice proficiency, and advanced certifications. The list goes on. The Institute of Medicine’s report, “The Future of Nursing,” recently raised the bar on expectations for nurse education and practices. In a rapidly changing healthcare environment characterized by new research, guidelines and constantly changing regulations, nurses must embrace lifelong learning.
- The Expert Hat – Let’s face it. If you have a medical question or need, generally the first call you make is to a nurse. The one in your family. The one who is your friend. Or the one who lives down the street. Rarely a week goes by that a nurse doesn’t get a call from a friend, loved one, neighbor or “friend of a friend” seeking advice on “something” ranging from neurology to podiatry and everything in between.
- The Counselor Hat – Nurses are resources not only to patients but to co-workers and other healthcare delivery team members. Nurses provide intellectual, emotional and psychological support. Patients are frequently frightened by a diagnosis (or potential diagnosis) or procedure. A nurse provides support to help them cope better with the situation. When nurses are effective in their counselor roles, patients are empowered. These empowering practices include encouraging patients to speak up, accurately and tactfully restating patients’ concerns, listening to feedback, and helping patients build a positive vision of the future.
- The Information Technology Super-user Hat – In today’s care settings, nurses must be increasingly proficient with the use of technology. Let’s face it. Electronic medical records and other technology-dependent tools and solutions continue to proliferate. Nurses increasingly use technology to document, order, scan, measure and assess as they care for their patients. And don’t forget all those clinical alarms that seem to go off every 15 minutes.
Today’s nurses are definitely “multi-hatters.” And healthcare consumers and their families owe a debt of gratitude for the compassionate and quality care nurses provide. Hats off to all you nurses out there – not only this week, but 52 weeks every year!