Communicating Nursing's Excellence and Value: On the Way to Magnet^sup ®^

Article excerpt

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Effective communication is essential as nurses convey their critical impact in care delivery.

As part of Magnet readiness, the Main Line Health System engaged a nationally recognized expert to develop a communications strategy for staffnurses and frontline managers.

This initiative was driven by the chief nursing officer and the nursing leadership team.

The goal was to refine communication skills of the nursing staffto tell their story of the Magnet work achieved as well as to better prepare staffto clearly articulate the essential elements of their work in all settings.

The result was clinical nurses who were able to articulate their unique value in a changing health care world clearly.

MAGNET® JOURNEY FOCUSES on nurse staffing and workforce development that demonstrates the structures and processes that serve to give a "voice" to nurses as part of shared decision making. A key component in understanding how nurses give voice to their work is thinking about how nurses actually describe their work to others. What is the style and substance of how nurses' communication facilitates or deters the listener(s) in seeking more information and/or elaboration about their individual work or the work of the profession? As the Magnet visit became a reality, the nursing vice presidents of the three acute care hospitals involved voiced concerns regarding how the nurses may not be prepared for the visit. They believed the nursing staffwere not comfortable talking to reviewers about the details and substance of their work. The CNO listened, gathered information, and facilitated the development of an action plan to foster better communication to detail the impact and value of nursing in the organization.

A dynamic collegial partnership was forged with the senior vice president for marketing and communications at Main Line Health, Bryn Mawr, PA. She focused on how to present nursing work and outcomes to a wide variety of audiences. Her experience in communications, coupled with a long-standing association with a nationally recognized expert in this field, helped prepare the nurse workforce. Although the focus and impetus at the time was preparing the nursing stafffor the upcoming Magnet visit, the lessons learned through this experience may be applied to nurses in any setting. It can be part of the overall development of the workforce, independent of an event such as a Magnet visit. The aim of this article is to describe how a "communications makeover" through an intense day of education and coaching transformed the nursing staffinto effective communicators.

The nursing workforce must be able to communicate with confidence and ease their contributions and value to patients, co-workers, and the community at large. When thinking about nurses' communication, collaboration, credibility, compassion, and coordination have been identified as skill sets that exemplify nurse professionalism to members of health teams (Apker, Propp, Ford, & Hofmesiter, 2006). And with more emphasis on communication as it relates to overall quality and cost, the role that nurses play is pivotal (Agarwal, Sands, & Schneider, 2010).

A daylong, intensive communication training with selected Main Line Health staffprovided an opportunity for nurses to gain tips, techniques, and skills in how to communicate effectively in the workplace. Nurses need specific tools to convey their mission and be influencers. They must be encouraged to discuss their role, the value of their work, and the difference it makes to patients, families, and the community.

Giving Voice to Communicating Values, Beliefs, and Contributions

Although nurses were rated top of all professionals for honesty and ethics for the 11th year (Jones, 2011), there is generally not a clear understanding among the public and even among many health pro-fessionals and health care administrators as to the pivotal role nurses play in delivering superior care. …