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Aundrea Mills, Chief Nursing Officer, Reflects on What’s New, What’s Next and How Compass One Healthcare is Paving a Path to Keep Nurses at Top of License

Let’s talk a bit about the impacts of the nursing shortage.

Estimates still indicate that the shortage is sizable—with up to 450,000 nurses needed in the US, particularly in acute care settings.

What is the solution? Is there one?

With 45% of in-patient nurses reporting that they are likely to leave their roles in the next 6 months, it’s critical that our teams work to develop solutions that address nursing workforce challenges. When nurses stay busy with non-clinical tasks, they experience frustration and even burnout. Our team is dedicated to diverting nurses away from tasks that they want to spend less time on while creating efficiencies that allow them to stay at the top of their license.

As you reflect on 2023, what do you feel most proud of? 

As I reflect on the last year, I am struck by the growth and success of my team.  The partnership with the operators and patient experience teams has elevated the nurse relationships in our accounts, and the collaboration is most powerful when we work together with unified goals.  I see continued growth and sustainability in our healthcare accounts because of the prioritization and focus on nurse partnerships. Our upcoming initiatives are designed to better support nurses, including a wellness space for nurses that we are calling “The Nurse Lounge Concept.”

Tell me more about your initiatives for collaborating with nurses at an account. What does this look like in the day-to-day?

Food & Nutrition Services leaders have begun rounding with nursing leaders to identify potential breakdowns in workflows. It is a great opportunity to connect with CNOs at our accounts and to identify opportunities for process improvement. It also starts a dialogue on workflow that can lead to expanded responsibilities for Food & Nutrition Services that may alleviate some burdens on nursing. We know that relationships and communication are key to success with our nurse partners, and we actively coach our operators in attendance at the nurse leadership and shared governance meetings at our accounts.  This leadership cadence provides a dedicated avenue for the exchange of information, as well as an opportunity to follow-up. In their busy day-to-day chaos, it makes sense to meet them where they are— and it also makes them smile when we bring snacks!

What prompted the need for the Nurse Lounge Concept?

Research indicates that shift work inhibits nurses’ ability to shop, cook, and pack food for work. Nurses perceive the need for quick energy to perform their best during these long shifts—and they intentionally avoid hydrating because they don’t have time to use the restroom. Pocket-size snacks win out over healthy food because it’s easier to stop and start eating. This provides an incredible opportunity to care for and support our clinical caregivers. We can positively impact the healthcare workplace by creating a space for them that addresses these needs.  Prioritizing time and resources to learn more about what they want and need for nourishment to work long-hour shifts shows our support and partnership.

Has your team implemented the Nurse Lounge Concept in any accounts?

We currently have a “nurse breakroom/lounge” model in pilot at Sentara Health that will allow us to support the nurses with such nourishment based on their preferences.  We will also measure their satisfaction regarding this focus on their wellness and message this to others as a tool for nurse wellness support.

How does your team measure nurse satisfaction at your accounts?

We leverage technology via QR code, at the discretion of the nurse leader, to distribute a nurse questionnaire specific to our services.  From that data, we can determine the nurse needs specific to the system, facility, or even on individual clinical floors.  This allows us to customize support for our nurse partners.

Can technology help divert nursing staff away from non-clinical tasks?

Yes. By innovating through technology and evaluating how current care models can be redesigned, we can better support our nursing staff. We are working to redesign our care models through intentional delegation. Time is the most valuable resource a nurse has.  When we replace the time of a telephone call with a quick view by the click of a button, we are giving the nurse time back to spend with his/her patients.  Taskvue, our newest tool in the MyDining suite,  does just this.  Nurses can visualize meal status by utilizing this technology, eliminating potential phone time spent away from the bedside.  Every minute counts…

What makes Morrison Healthcare different, in respect to caregiver support?

We have the tech and we have the team. We have uncovered the potential to reallocate 15 percent of nurses’ time through tech enablement, automation, and improved delegation of tasks. When we translate the net amount of time freed up by the projected amount of nursing time needed, we estimate the potential to close the workforce gap by up to 300,000 nurses.

Your team has expanded in 2023. What does this mean for caregiver support and nursing engagement?

The expansion of this team has been even more dynamic than I ever imagined.  Leveraging their unique nurse backgrounds and skill sets has increased our bandwidth and support opportunities at a very rapid pace.  My team is driven to enhance the nurse partnership. We all lead with the same mission: a dedicated focus on nurses practicing at the “top of license” as mentioned earlier—and it is our shared goal to support our operators in our accounts to maximize nurse satisfaction.  By working collaboratively, we define nursing best practices that ultimately impact patient safety and enhance patient care.

What’s next for 2024?

We are leveraging the data to reinvent the current care model to better support nursing staff in unique clinical settings, based on the patient and nurse needs that we have identified. Our vision—our objective—is that this support model promotes customizable patient and nurse support roles, that we will create.   Each system has unique needs, and we are actively creating service lines to support this. The sky’s the limit, and we are working in accounts all over the country, to develop a newly defined care experience role that enhances the hospital experience for the patient. This is what sets us apart—building these relationships with nursing teams, and their responding to their needs.

Nurse Lounge Concept 

Morrison Healthcare has partnered with the American Nurses Association to promote health and wellness across clinical caregivers. Our Nurse Lounge solution aims to support the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation pillars for physical activity, rest, nutrition, quality of life, safety, and mental health.

Our goal: To help support nurse retention and drive nursing satisfaction by providing our clinical caregivers with a dedicated space for healthy, nutritious snacks and wellness. Through our customizable solution, Morrison Healthcare aims to meet our clients where they are— with a holistic nursing solution. Whether a hallway or a full breakroom we will partner with you to create an intentional space to better support our nurses.

Please connect with Aundrea Mills ([email protected])

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