This is a place for ‘Why’ and a platform to let others shine. Thank you to my guest blogger for sharing your inner glow!
December 10, 2015
By Charity Branstad, RN
From a very young age, I knew what I wanted to do in life. I never struggled with the question, “What am I going to be when I grow up.” I was always going to be a wife, a mother, and a nurse.
I LOVE NURSING. I love helping patients and families through illness. I enjoy teaching people about their bodies, illnesses, and injuries. I have no problem cleaning up blood, vomit, poop, pee, and worse. I can place tubes in and take tubes out of multiple body parts. I clean and bandage wounds and splint injuries. I monitor a person’s condition and titrate therapies, treatment, and medication to desired effect. I compress patient’s chest and shock their hearts back to life! I witness the first breath a baby takes at birth and the last breath a person exhales before dying. I collaborate with other members of the healthcare team to ensure a quick and complete recovery for each patient. I strive to treat every patient the way I would want my family treated.
Why would I ever step away from bedside nursing to work behind a desk? Wear business clothes and not scrubs? This was not the plan; this is not what I envisioned when I started my career. I told myself I would try working in Quality. If I didn’t like it, I would go back to “the floor.” That was 3 and ½ years ago. I discovered that I still affect the way patient care is provided. I help transform boring regulations into processes that help healthcare workers deliver safe, current, and effective care to patients.
I needed to learn new skills to be proficient. I was expected to provide feedback to the team on how they were doing with a given project. Were they successful in their efforts and if not, where did they need to improve? The report needed to be easy to read and provide all necessary components to explain success or areas for improvement. I learned Excel for these reports. I’ve created workbooks with beautiful tables and graphs to convey this information.
Leading process improvement initiatives is another skill I’m developing. This starts with a clear and concise description of the goal we need to accomplish. Next, we research the best practices to reach the goal and take an honest look at our current processes. Then the team can determine how they can change the way they work to meet the best practices. Each new or different step tried is analyzed for effectiveness. Tweaks are made as needed and reanalyzed until successful. This is the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. As facilitator, I keep the team on track and moving forward.
One method used to proactively evaluate a process is the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis. First, we list each step. Next, we identify what could go wrong with each step (failure), what is the cause of the failure, and what would happen if the step failed (effect). Last, a number is calculated for each failure to help determine the severity of the missed step. The steps in the process with the highest severity score should be considered first for improvement opportunities.
Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is used retrospectively to determine what the real cause of a problem is in our process. This tool doesn’t believe in human error as the only cause of a problem, but rather a breakdown in the system that led to the issue. The key in RCA is to keep asking why the incident happened and don’t stop until the root is found.
These are just a few of the new skills I’ve learned. Far different from giving shots, yet just as important to ensure safe and effective care with quick and complete recovery for the patients.