It’s no secret that nurses have faced a seemingly endless string of challenges over the past few years. In many ways the pandemic accelerated trends already underway.
Staffing shortages and higher patient acuity; symptoms of nursing stress and burnout; and frustration with software and processes that interrupt patient care. So how have some nurses maintained their resilience in the face of these mounting challenges? That was the core question we wanted to ask during our conversations with several nurse leaders for the MEDITECH Podcast.
Early in the pandemic, nurses enjoyed a newfound sense of respect and admiration. They were portrayed as heroes on the frontlines of the battle against the virus. As time went on, however, feelings of being overworked and under appreciated crept back in. These emotional fluctuations are now leveling off, and as the dust begins to settle, nurses are discovering something remarkable: Many of them are feeling more resilient and more in control of their future than ever before.
You can hear it in the voices of three nurses we recently spoke with from Citizens Memorial Healthcare in Bolivar, MO. These nurse leaders certainly don’t sugar coat their pandemic experience. They share some very personal stories about their own challenges and what they learned from them. But they’re looking toward the future from a place of strength and optimism as they regard the many options available to them in their profession — from frontline nursing positions across a variety of areas of care, to management positions, teaching roles, clinical IT opportunities and beyond.
Jane Englebright, PhD, RN, made similar observations in her conversation with us during another edition of the MEDITECH Podcast.
“This is a great time to be a nurse, to be joining the profession and to be on the front line as we go through this time of transformation,” Englebright said. “Healthcare workers are more appreciated now than they ever have been, and there are more career opportunities and more career advancement.”
According to Englebright, the secret to achieving career satisfaction in nursing — and the way healthcare organizations can attract and develop new nurse leaders — is to make sure their work is focused on the most meaningful parts of the job.
“I think attracting the next generation of clinicians and clinical leaders is all about giving them first of all meaningful work to do,” Englebright observed. “In my mind, that is the ratio of meaningful to non-meaningful work that they have to do in the course of their day, creating a healthy work environment in which they can grow and thrive and live out their own personal mission, and then recognizing and rewarding them for the great jobs they do when they do it.”
I love these observations because they fit so neatly into our own philosophy for our nursing products at MEDITECH. Our goal is to make our software a seamless and natural part of a clinician’s workflow, fading into the background and playing a supporting role. When we’re able to do that and do it well, it helps clinicians keep their focus on what’s most meaningful and important while streamlining the “non-meaningful” but still necessary work. This ultimately leads to a much more rewarding experience for both nurses and their patients.
That was certainly our goal for Expanse Patient Care, which is why it’s so gratifying to hear from nurses just how much our nursing mobility tools have streamlined their work. I think it’s also why the full MEDITECH Expanse EHR was selected by AHIMA for their e-learning platform. As John Richey, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA, Director of Academic Education Services at AHIMA, explained during another episode of the MEDITECH Podcast:
“The AHIMA VLab® e-learning platform features the MEDITECH Expanse EHR — both acute care modules and ambulatory care modules. We've created pre-built patient cases for students to access and to review, providing hands-on experience and making a difference for their employer right away. When they’re done they're well-trained job candidates that can hit the ground running.”
This is such an important point. Building EHR training into the educational curricula is beneficial for both students and the organizations that eventually hire them. Healthcare organizations get new hires that are better prepared for their jobs, and newly-hired clinicians spend less time learning how to use their software and more time interacting with their patients. That puts them on the right path from the start of their careers, toward higher levels of job satisfaction and fewer symptoms of burnout.
While AHIMA’s use of the Expanse EHR in their e-learning lab is not specifically geared toward nurses, they have access to our complete Expanse EHR and use it to explore what physicians and nurses see, and what their typical workflows look like. This can be enormously helpful for those newer to the field and also for nurses considering career changes into areas like clinical informatics, clinical documentation improvement, or other back office roles.
“Foundational EHR proficiency is critical for all healthcare staff,” Richey noted. “Understanding what EHRs are, why they’re important, and how they’re used is foundational and critical to anyone working in the healthcare field, regardless of their role.”
So, as we look at the road ahead in nursing, I agree with our podcast guests and see more opportunities for nurses than ever before. Yes, the immediate future is a little uncertain, with new variants of the virus and the possibility of more surges. But nurses have proven themselves highly resilient, and they’ve built the support networks they need within their organizations to lean on whatever the future holds. Their visibility is greater now than before the pandemic, their value to their organizations more evident, and their sense of control over their careers more acute.
Join us for a transformational leadership experience this September at MEDITECH LIVE.