Here we are at our baby girl’s nursing school graduation. She’s all grown up again.
This is her second round of graduate school. Her first was in global health. And as her fiancé reminded us, this won’t be her last. She enters into a nursing PhD program this fall, after their wedding and relocation. I’m exhausted just watching…
There was the pinning ceremony and then the graduation. Listening to her friends’ job search stories and their perspectives about nursing were good to listen to.
One thing for sure, the graduation speeches delivered by the grads from the APN, MECN, and the BSN programs were the best—engaging and funny. Note to self for my next speech. It must be all their years of watching speeches on You Tube.
It made me think, What would be the one thing I would say to new grads today?
How about focusing on Nurse-Centered Care before Patient-Centered Care?
Your first year
Research presented in an AONE publication (Kabcenell et al.) and Nursing Management (Kester & Wei) show that your first year puts you at the greatest risk to exit nursing.
As a nurse in today’s healthcare industry—the most complex industry in existence—you will see things that surprise you, frustrate you, exhilarate you, break your heart, and touch you in profoundly life-giving ways.
You will quickly experience the limitations of nursing, medicine and the healthcare system. And you will wonder what you are doing there.
So how can we expect you to survive? That’s the purpose of IHI’s 4th Aim.
Remember all those EBP protocols and QI projects that you had to learn? They stem from the Quadruple Aim Initiatives (from the IHI, Institute of Healthcare Improvement). Every one of those quality initiatives is rooted in one of the first 3 Aims – better patient experience, better patient health, reduce costs.
The 4thAim is about you. This 4th Aim was based on research that showed that if the care of the caregiver is not healthy then the first 3 Aims are not going to improve—patients are not going to have better experiences, achieve better health, and costs will continue to rise.
This 4th Aim elevates the importance of the impact of the caregiver’s holistic health on patient outcomes. The IHI’s call to action is to encourage nurses and physicians to learn ways to stay focused on the purpose and meaning of their work—the Why of their work.
What is your Why?
In the fury to achieve those first 3 Aims—day in and day out—clinicians get stripped of their Why. The Why is defined as the reason we do the things we do. It is the purpose of an action or the meaning behind an action. It is the meaning behind your becoming a nurse.
This puts the focus upstream on the caregiver way before a patient interaction. This puts the caregivers themselves in the center, and by doing so this improves care of patients.
So the first big question as a new grad, What is your Why behind becoming a nurse?
The options are vast. My Why is helping people navigate the healthcare system – patients and nurses. My daughter’s is to improve health globally- specifically women’s health. Yours may be to save lives. Or to help people live and die through heart disease or cancer.
Think nurse-centered care first
The second big question is, How are you going to hold onto that Why? As new grads, it will be natural for you to lose track of your Why while you frantically adjust to the realities of nursing practice and the healthcare industry. It’s easy to get caught up in the demands and dramas of others and lose focus on you and your Why.
So how about this …
Every time you hear someone talk about patient-centered care…. Remember that to have high quality patient-centered care, nurse-centered care has to come first.
That’s your cue to stop and honor your meaning behind being a nurse.
That’s your cue to do something that satisfies your Why. It will make patients’ experiences better too.