Nurses as Leaders: How They Inspire, Innovate, and Influence

National Nurses Week is May 6-12, and during this week we celebrate nurses and their role in healthcare. This year’s theme is “Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence”.

Nurses across the country contribute to the advancement of the nursing profession every day, whether through research, leadership, or excellent patient care. Many also dedicate themselves to the pursuit of higher education, such as a BSN or Master of Science in Nursing.

Nurses play a critical role in healthcare and help drive the change that is necessary to improve patient outcomes.

Innovation for the Youngest of Patients

When nurses see a need in healthcare, or even in their own practice, sometimes they take it upon themselves to devise a solution. For example, Jonelle Krier, an OB nurse, saw that many parents of newborns were frustrated with the difficulty of keeping the umbilical cord dry so that it would heal and fall off properly without any complications.

Her solution was to develop a onesie with a bodysuit for infants with an opening to allow the umbilical cord to stay dry. Parents have found her bodysuits very helpful, and some hospital nurseries have even adopted using her suits. Jonelle’s innovation won her a grant from Huggies in 2013, which she used to expand her line of bodysuits.

Embracing Technology

Cheryl Bailey, the CNO and VP of Patient Care Services at Cullman Regional Medical Center saw an opportunity to integrate technology into the discharge process. Bailey worked to trial a program at her hospital called “Good to Go”. This HIPAA-compliant program allows RNs to record videos and recordings of discharge instructions, which patients can view on a computer or smartphone. They may also take pictures of wound or incisions to help patients monitor their own healing more effectively at home.

The hospital saw a 15% reduction in readmissions in patients who used Good-to-Go than those who did not. Patients also reported increased understanding and satisfaction with their discharge instructions after the implementation of the new program. Bailey’s leadership and innovation helped to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Nurses with a Vision

Nurses also influence policy change and the advancement of nursing as a major component of healthcare. Susan Salmond and Mercedes Echevarria authored “Healthcare Transformations and Changing Roles for Nursing”. This paper was a call-to-action for changing the way that healthcare operates in the United States.

Care must be increasingly patient and family-centered, must be safer, and nurses must be focused on caring for patients along the health continuum, providing more holistic care as healthcare transforms from an error-laden system that is focused on episodic care. Salmond and Echevarria also proposed using a risk stratification system in population health nursing to determine the level of care that a person needs, ranging from providing wellness education at the lower-risk levels to advocacy and care coordination at the higher-risk levels.

These nurses are exemplars of the nurses we celebrate during Nurses Week, who demonstrate inspiration, innovation, and influence through their efforts. Patients, fellow nurses, and the future generation of nurses look to individuals such as these who have a vision to advance the profession and revolutionize care.