Bristol Builds on Magnet Success – Develops Great Nurse Leaders

ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program® recognizes hospital organizations for excellence in patient care and superior nursing processes. Bristol Hospital, a small community hospital in Connecticut, is extremely proud to be among the elite 7% of health care organizations with Magnet designation nationally. To uphold this high standard, Bristol has embraced dedication to one theme: developing great leaders at all levels of nursing, including charge and other first-level supervisory nurses.

Cultivating Greatness
For many organizations, leadership training is provided to management and executive level leaders only. Bristol acknowledged the need and benefit of including first-level supervisors in their training plan. Previously, charge nurse training at the hospital utilized the traditional shadowing approach in which current charge nurses train those who are new to the role. While this experience is of value, there is little emphasis on honing leadership skills outside of clinical situations. Bristol Hospital was searching for a way to invest more in nursing employees, and deploy training more quickly than they could by creating a program of their own. In the search for a program to fit their needs, and with the help of Capital Workforce Partners, Bristol discovered Catalyst Learning’s NCharge® “Nurses Learning to Lead” series. NCharge has the lessons and materials most important to creating strong supervisory and business skills.

Bristol chose three courses from the series with specific desires in mind. “Critical thinking, decision making, effective communication, and conflict resolution all help to advance our nurses’ practice,” stated Kerry Yeager, Clinical Informatics Specialist at Bristol. “The participants were most engaged in the communication and conflict style assessments. I believe it gave them a greater understanding of how effective communication and conflict resolution skills impact patient care. As the charge nurse, these skills are essential.”

Magnet Environment
The NCharge courses were directly in line with the overall goal to create a collaborative, innovative environment. The Magnet Model emphasizes not only exemplary professional practice among healthcare providers, but also an environment where nursing staff are encouraged to be strong leaders, make decisions and improvements for efficiency and effectiveness, and continually grow and evolve within the profession. In response to a post-training survey, managers at Bristol reported improvement in participants’ ability to make complex decisions, find collaborative approaches to managing conflict, and fostering team engagement.

Bristol has observed more engagement from nurses who participated in the NCharge courses. Charge Nurses can be concerned about speaking up when there is a potential to disrupt the process or one is unclear about expectations within a role. “You get used to doing things a certain way. Breaking out of the mold can be harder for employees in a smaller hospital,” stated Nancy LaMonica, Director of Clinical Excellence, Professional Practice and Magnet. The confidence charge nurses gain from NCharge assists in creating the collaborative, forward-thinking environment Bristol strives to uphold. “They seem to have an increased autonomy and appear confident in bringing up new ideas to improve patient care and nursing practice” added LaMonica.

Additional Benefits
For Bristol’s participants, the NCharge program also fueled increased interest in continuing education and specialty certification. LaMonica reported seeing a growth in nurse’s interest in attending specialty certification review and studying for exams, promoting excellence and professionalism, which is one of the key goals Bristol’s Nursing leadership team identified prior to participation in the program. With a desire to have 80% or more nurses achieving a BSN or higher by the year 2020, Bristol leadership plans to increase the elite status that the hospital has established by providing more nurses who are experts in their field.

Continuing education, professional growth, and certification are several ways Bristol instills value in the leadership team and their roles. By investing in the leadership training, charge nurses continue to grow and influence hospital standards, nursing autonomy, patient centered care and patient satisfaction. “You see a different light in them when they go back to school, almost like it’s a new day. It helps them realize that our nursing profession never stops growing,” added LaMonica.

With a high focus of growing charge nurse engagement, Bristol Hospital is not only striving to live and breathe their Magnet designation, but to keep a Magnet environment striving for nursing empowerment and excellence flowing through the hospital to ensure patients receive the best experience possible. The commitment to cultivating great nurses into becoming great leaders at Bristol Hospital is upholding a level of excellence for current and future patients which is second to none.