Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

An Academic Practice Partnership: Helping New Registered Nurses to Advance Quality and Patient Safety

Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

An Academic Practice Partnership: Helping New Registered Nurses to Advance Quality and Patient Safety

Article excerpt


Significant changes in the healthcare environment have occurred that offer challenges for quality improvement and nursing education programs, and thus impact both nursing practice and education. We formed an academic-practice partnership to actively engage students enrolled in an undergraduate nursing research course in quality processes with participation in a medical center's performance improvement program. This article describes the development of the partnership: and projects, results, and implications for practice. Students worked collaboratively in groups with hospital staff performance improvement preceptors and a course faculty member. Using the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) model, students collected, analyzed, and disseminated data from existing projects, or those for which the organization had identified a need. Leaders involved in the inception of this partnership agreed that it achieved its goals of enabling the college to effectively teach recently mandated quality improvement methodologies to achieve competency and enhancing the medical center's capabilities to obtain data for quality improvement purposes. The academic-practice partnership continues to evolve, and we offer discussion about lessons learned and partnership growth.

Citation: Flores, D., Hickenlooper, G., Saxton, R., (September 30, 2013) "An Academic Practice Partnership: Helping New Registered Nurses to Advance Quality and Patient Safety" OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 18, No. 3, Manuscript 3.

DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Voll8No03Man03

Key words: Safe care, Quality Improvement, QI methodologies, Academic-Practice Partnership, Collaborative, nursing research, nursing competencies, Continuous Improvement, Process Improvement

Staff nurses are expected to be involved in collecting quality improvement data on a regular basis as part of their daily work through activities such as reporting falls and adverse drug events. However, many do not graduate from nursing programs with the knowledge, skills, or attitudes necessary to move beyond the task of reporting. With the ever increasing demand to provide safe, quality care and document its achievement, it is imperative that hospitals have a pool of graduate nurses prepared to participate in quality improvement upon hiring. One way to accomplish this is for healthcare quality improvement departments and academic nursing programs to come together to provide nursing students with basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to quality improvement.


The United States has and is continuing to undergo changes in its healthcare system that significantly impact quality improvement programs and nursing education. The nursing profession began to conduct research related to patient safety and quality of care in 1994 through the American Nurses Association (ANA) Safety and Quality Initiative (Montalvo. 2007J. This research led to the development of the National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® (NDNQI) that consists of 13 nursing-sensitive outcomes which measure the value of nurses in promoting safe, quality patient care (ANA, n.d.; Montalvo. 2007). To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 1999) informed both healthcare providers and the American public that healthcare was not as safe as it should be and identified the human and financial costs of medical errors, factors contributing to medical errors, and strategies for improvement. In 2000, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) received a $50 million Congressional appropriation to broaden research, provide support, and develop demonstration projects; the term "never event" was coined (IOM. 1999). Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century (IOM, 2001) provided six specific aims, applicable to all health constituencies, to achieve substantial improvements in healthcare. These aims stated that healthcare should be safe, effective, patient centered, timely, efficient, and equitable. …

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