Oregon Surgery Center Adds Charge Nurse Role to Enhance Unit Leadership

bend surgery center article from catalyst learning

Bend Surgery Center (BSC) is a freestanding ambulatory surgery center in Central Oregon, the first and largest in the area. It performs 13,000+ cases annually and enjoys high JCAHO approval rates; 99% of patients cite being satisfied and would recommend BSC to others. BSC’s mission is to provide a safe, comfortable, and healthy patient-focused environment. Its reputation is so sound in the community, that nurses seek it out as an employer of choice, even as neighboring facilities offer higher pay.

As the BSC facility has grown, it has developed a need to have strong frontline supervisory nurses to lead teams. Nurse Managers can’t be everywhere at once, so BSC decided to add a layer of support by adding a Charge Nurse role last year. The goal was to promote RN leaders who could communicate effectively with nurses and physicians, and manage on-the-ground issues like nurse assignments, staffing issues, and patient influx.

With the strategy to add leadership roles, BSC knew it had to prepare its high potential nurses who were going to fill those roles. Training and mentorship were important parts of the ramp-up process toward the new nursing organization structure. BSC was focused on ensuring success as bedside nurses transitioned into leadership roles.

Because BSC isn’t a large community hospital, larger scale in-person Charge RN leadership development courses with a system-wide roll-out didn’t fit its need. BSC wanted instructor-led courses, but couldn’t do a full curriculum series with every nurse in a class at one time.

BSC found Catalyst Learning’s product, “NCharge: Nurses Learning to Lead” done in a public, virtual style format. With this course offering, Catalyst Learning’s instructors lead classes and take the stress of teaching and project management off the shoulders of smaller hospitals and outpatient facilities. This course structure trains teams of Charge Nurses with the same high-quality content and interaction as a classroom setting, but done remotely and with convenient scheduling. It offered BSC nurses an opportunity to have group discussions and shared discussion with other nurses from across the U.S., done in real-time. Public courses like Charge Nurse Leadership Fundamentals offer a live instructor, video vignettes, group chat, and breakout rooms. The public NCharge course is a virtual way to mimic traditional in-person leadership training.

Jamie Bartley RN is a Nurse Manager at BSC who coordinates the nurse leadership development opportunities there, and who found this program offered by Catalyst Learning. She commented that “The NCharge classes caught my attention because topics offered in public classes help teach the most important principles of leadership. The tools and open discussion help build a foundation and set the tone for how to handle challenging situations. The interactive learning opportunity keeps my team engaged.”

Ms. Bartley noted that the course Leading Change in a Dynamic Climate helps her nurses see a difference in how staff understand change and manage through change. This course helps nurses interpret teammates’ individual responses to change in the work environment. It also helps her Charge RNs find ways to improve communication, staff productivity, and manage through change-related transitions.

In the weeks after her nurses take the different public courses, Ms. Bartley hears that the new Charge RNs are enjoying the curriculum. They comment on what topics were covered, and how new skill development should be utilized in future situations. Within the classes, BSC nurses have enjoyed communicating with other nurses across the U.S. It has given nurses a sense of camaraderie and encouragement. “One of the biggest takeaways of the NCharge public courses is my team sees they are not alone on their leadership journey. During classes, they are able to listen to other nurses discuss work challenges, and how other nurses work through those challenges. Both new and experienced nurse leaders are learning from the classes as well as from each other.” Adding the Charge RN role in 2021-2022 ended up being successful in ways BSC hadn’t even planned on. It helps with retention, gives nurses an additional opportunity for growth, and has become a first step into leadership. Adding the additional layer of support offers nurses someone to talk to when Managers are busy, an immediate support to nurse teams. As BSC continues to grow, the Charge Nurse role and nursing team needs will definitely evolve, but managing through change will always be part of the plan