4 Strategies to Engage Nurses in Quality Improvement Activities

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There was little increase in nurses' participation in quality improvement activities from 2004 to 2008, according to a study published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality and reported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Researchers studied participation levels in QI activities of registered nurses who were first licensed between 2004 and 2005 compared with the levels of nurses who were first licensed between 2007 and 2008. QI activities included measuring performance, working to improve processes or systems of care, monitoring sustainability of improved practices and working to improve performance.

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A survey of 539 registered nurses employed in hospitals in 15 states revealed that participation in these QI activities did not differ significantly over the time period studied, despite the increase in the number of hospitals who participated in programs to engage nurses in quality and safety initiatives. However, the "use of appropriate strategies to improve hand washing compliance to reduce nosocomial infection rates" did improve over time, according to the RWJF news release.

The authors suggested several ways hospital leaders can engage nurses in QI activities:

•    Subscribe to programs in which nurses complete self-directed online modules to learn about QI, such as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Open School for Health Professions and the RWJF-funded Quality and Safety Education for Nurses initiative.
•    Have more experienced colleagues help early-career nurses translate newly acquired QI knowledge into action.
•    Ensure adequate staffing levels and that nurses have sufficient release time to participate in QI activities.
•    Ensure nurses have access to an information technology infrastructure that provides meaningful, timely and actionable QI data.

The study is part of the RWJF-funded RN Work Project, a 10-year study of newly licensed registered nurses that began in 2006.

More Articles on Quality Improvement and Engagement:

4 Broad Strategies to Improve Transitions of Care
5 Proven Strategies to Prevent Patient Falls

3 Simple Ways Hospitals Can Engage Patients in Their Care

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