Nurse Appreciation Week (May 6 – 12) kicks off on Nurses Appreciation Day May 6th!
The seven-day observance serves as an excellent opportunity to emphasize the critical role nurses play in keeping the population well.
More than ever before, in today’s healthcare environment, nurses are playing a much more advanced role in the care of patients. Nurse practitioners and DNP’s (Doctor of Nursing Practice) have become mainstream in the delivery of healthcare and this is a trend we feel will continue into the future.
Lucky for us, we’ve been blessed with a team full of individuals who have years of hands-on nursing experience, like Chris Bloodworth, our Director of Clinical Product Management.
With over three decades spent in the nursing profession, Chris is an invaluable member of our team who possess an intimate understanding of the challenges facing those who choose to work in this critical healthcare role.
We sat down with Chris to learn what it means to her to be a nurse, hear about her experiences and get her perspective on the many challenges facing nurses today.
MH: Tell us about your background and how you became a nurse?
CB: I have 35 years of nursing experience. Twenty-seven of those years took place in a hospital setting and the rest have been at MEDHOST. In the acute care setting I worked Med-Surg, OB, Surgery, and ICU. As a nursing director, I had responsibility and oversight of these areas as well as the emergency department, wound care clinic, pain clinic, infusion therapy clinic, the swing bed unit, case management and infection control. I also worked in Utilization Review for a short time. When I was a nursing director, I also had dual responsibilities as the clinical informaticist and was responsible for leading the facility through their initial MU (Meaningful Use) attestation.
MH: What is one of your best memories of being a nurse?
CB: I have a lot of great memories. However, what sticks out is how much I enjoyed coaching and mentoring new nurses and seeing them grow as both nurses and leaders. In my role as a nurse manager, I felt one way I could help promote safe and quality patient care was through developing our staff. Many of the nurses I worked with have grown to become nurse leaders and practitioners who are currently serving their communities with pride.
MH: What does Nurses Appreciation Week mean to you?
CB: Nurses Week is a chance to celebrate the nursing profession and to recognize nurses for everything that they do for the people in their communities every day. It is an opportunity to say Thank You!
MH: What are some things about the nursing profession people probably don’t realize and what are the biggest challenges facing nurses today?
CB: Nurses fill a very important role in the healthcare sector, especially as the need for healthcare is increasing due to aging baby boomers. Research estimates a shortage of 250,000 nurses in the next 5 years. The nursing shortage is one of the biggest challenges that nurses will face. The existing workforce will be strained as more people need care.
MH: How would you suggest we solve or overcome the nursing workforce shortage in healthcare?
CB: There is a shortage of nursing educators, limiting enrollment in nursing programs. Issues impacting this shortage range from specific preparations necessary for teaching nurses to low nursing faculty salaries. The cost of education for both nurses and those wishing to teach nursing is also a hurdle. On top of that, salaries for nursing faculty often average lower than faculty members at the same rank. The combination of heavy school debt and lesser compensation makes recruiting nurse educators difficult. Expanding access to education through tuition reimbursement and scholarships is a start. Next, we need to begin addressing pay equality to attract more qualified educators.
MH: Speaking of grooming future nurses, what would you tell someone who is thinking of entering into the nursing profession? What do you wish someone had told you?
CB: Something I often tell people who are considering the nursing profession is that a nursing degree can take you anywhere. Nursing offers opportunities not only at the bedside, but also in the education, informatics, government, and technology industries. There are so many different opportunities a nursing degree opens up to; there is a place or niche—both inside and outside of the hospital setting—for anyone that is willing to work hard at it.
MH: Experience is definitely a value in teaching and in the practice. Talk about how your experience as a nurse plays into your current role at MEDHOST.
CB: As the Product Manager responsible for the strategy of clinical solutions, I believe my varied experience allots me a good understanding of care team workflows, their practices, and the challenges they face to provide the best care possible. My background and experience help guide my decision making when looking for ways to enhance our clinical solutions. At all points my goal is to find new ways to help improve efficiency of care, provide safe workflows, and build tools that satisfy both the patient and the clinician.
MH: When thinking of smarter tools, how have new healthcare data technologies changed the way nurses work and how do hospital’s get nurses onboard with new ways of doing things?
CB: One of the biggest changes has been the electronic health record (EHR). This has provided real-time access to patient information. Nurses don’t need to wait for a chart to be brought from one floor to another. With EHRs, multiple care team members have access simultaneously. The EHR has also advanced evidence-based practice and standardization of care, which has improved patient outcomes. Including nurses in the decision-making process is the best way to get then onboard.
MH: Along with new technology like EHRs, nurses can play a key role in helping support the transition to value-based care and improve the patient experience. As a nurse, what does that role look like to you?
CB: Patient education is vital to improving outcomes and preventing readmissions. As a core competency of nursing practice, patient education is essential to the patient’s self-management of their healthcare. Understanding and removing barriers to healthcare access is also very important. Nurses assess the holistic needs of the patient, not only physical and mental, but also social, economic, and environmental. Connecting the patient with available resources to remove or alleviate these barriers can enhance the patient experience and lead to better outcomes.
Thank you to Chris Bloodworth and to all the other nurses working to provide excellent care for their communities.
To learn how MEDHOST is making it easier for nurses to do what they love and love what they do, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.800.383.6278 to speak with a clinical specialist.