October 22, 2004

Nurse wellness topic of national conference

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Nurse wellness topic of national conference

Nursing leaders, health care providers and health care administrators from around the country will converge at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza on Oct. 28 for the Passport to Nurse Wellness Conference.

The three-day conference is aimed at helping health care leaders create a positive work environment for nurses, addressing the effect the work environment has on safe patient care, discussing the impact nurse wellness has on recruitment, retention and quality patient care, and identifying resources for the development of nurse wellness programs.

"The Institute of Medicine's 2004 report, Keeping Patients Safe: Transforming the Work Environment of Nurses, affirms the efforts that we have undertaken at Vanderbilt to create an optimal environment for nursing practice,” said Chief Nursing Officer and Director of Patient Care Services, Marilyn Dubree, M.S.N., R.N. “This conference gives us an opportunity to bring some of the best thought-leaders to VUMC to discuss with us, and others from throughout the country, ways that we can address issues of nurse wellness and nursing practice.

Peter Buerhaus, Ph.D., R.N., Valere Potter Professor of Nursing, senior associate dean for Research at the Vanderbilt School of Nursing is among the presenters slated to speak at the Nurse Wellness Conference. He is known for his research on the implications of the nursing shortage, including the aging R.N. workforce and the impact of nurse staffing on patient care.

Buerhaus said programs nationwide, like those offered by VUMC's Nurse Wellness Task Force, have done much to improve the work environment for nurses.

“Recent research involving a national survey of nurses indicates that on a number of fronts nurses today are better off than a few years ago,” Buerhaus said. “However, hospitals still have much to do to address how the shortage of nurses is affecting the quality of care and hospital processes that involve nurses,” he added.

Organizers of the Passport to Wellness Conference said they've developed a core curriculum that will help address the problem.

“This conference will give attendees knowledge and tools that they can take back to their respective institutions,” said Pat Chenger, R.N., administrative director, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, and co-chair of the conference. “It will provide a forum for them to share approaches and current programming that lead to creating and maintaining a work environment that supports safe nursing care through nurse wellness initiatives.”

Leah Golden, R.N., co-chair of the Nurse Wellness Task Force at VUMC, said Vanderbilt has made great strides in promoting nurse wellness with several new programs through direct interventions such as the Take Your Break campaign and Nurse Wellness Fairs, as well as the promotion and support of other work like the Smooth Moves campaign and the Nurse Wellness Program, Golden said.

“Our interfaces with other hospitals have shown us that Vanderbilt is really in the forefront of the Nurse Wellness movement. The upcoming conference will allow us to disseminate what we have learned to other institutions and leaders, thereby spreading the philosophy of nurse wellness to a national audience,” she added.

Wendy Lynch, Ph.D., president of Lynch Consulting and the keynote speaker for the conference, will address the connection between employee health and business outcomes. Other program highlights include a presentation by Tennessee's Commissioner for Mental Health, Virginia Trotter Betts, M.S.N., R.N. Betts is the former president of the American Nurses Association and will speak about investing in the mental health of nurses.

It is geared toward nursing leadership, but nurses and others within the Vanderbilt community can attend at a discounted rate. For more information, call 343-2428.