Advancing Nursing Excellence Amid Difficult Times

By Michelle Sanchez, MSN, RN Jun 18, 2020

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Nurses strive to provide excellent patient care every day.

Nurses strive to provide excellent patient care every day. Recent upheavals in the usual processes have created challenges and opportunities to improve the experience for patients, families and staff. Here are some resources to support achieving excellence in your unit.

Processes and Outcomes

Nursing excellence is a result of true collaboration to develop and sustain a healthy work environment that engages and empowers team members to continually define effective processes. Sustained positive performance in outcome measures is a result of the processes and continual quality improvement in place on the unit and in the facility. If you’re wondering what this process looks like in recent months, explore the many stories in AACN's Your Stories. There is also an article in the June issue of Critical Care Nurse that offers additional guidance.

The Next Normal

While units adapt during the COVID-19 crisis and may now be entering the next normal, it is important to understand how embracing this journey can help your unit become stronger and better overall. During this time, processes have been adapted and new outcomes are being measured and monitored. Continued surveillance and evaluation of processes will help us meet the needs of patients, families and staff successfully.

Meaningful Recognition

Nurses must be recognized – and also recognize others – for the value each person brings to the work of the organization. This is the standard definition of meaningful recognition from the Healthy Work Environment standards. Formal and informal unit leaders can improve staff satisfaction and engagement by providing meaningful recognition, which can be done individually or through groups.

AACN’s Beacon Award for Excellence provides units with an opportunity to come together to document the processes that drive the provision of patient care and the outcomes that are achieved through compliance with these processes. While the Beacon Award is an outstanding achievement for any unit, it is important to understand that the innovations you implemented during COVID-19 are not the stars in the Beacon application. Sharing how your unit evaluated current processes or barriers, collaborated to identify and implement a solution, and evaluated the outcome is the framework for nursing excellence in the Beacon Award program.

Every unit is on their own journey to excellence by working to improve processes and outcomes every day. The Beacon Award for Excellence can help your unit document their successes in the journey and achieve recognition as an AACN Beacon-designated unit.

Consider adding your story and sharing your experiences with AACN on the Your Stories page.