November 14, 2008

Nurses ratify several changes to bylaws

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Janice Flatt, L.P.N., of Hillsboro Medical Group, addresses the delegates at the 2008 Nursing Bylaws Convention, thanking them for the vote that allows licensed practical nurses to become full-fledged members of the VMC nursing body. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Nurses ratify several changes to bylaws

Nearly 150 Vanderbilt nurses convened this week in Light Hall to ratify changes to the nursing bylaws, the official structure that allows staff to set their own standards for clinical practice and work environment.

This structure governs more than 4,000 Vanderbilt nurses.

“It is with a spirit of clarity and accuracy that I welcome you here today,” said Executive Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn Dubree, M.S.N., R.N. “Some of these issues may seem simple and others more substantive, but none are meaningful without being originated and owned by this group.”

One of the most significant changes regarded licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The delegates unanimously agreed that LPNs should be categorized as regular clinical nursing staff instead of staff affiliates — a move that adds LPNs to the governing body. Once ratified, the delegate group broke out in a standing ovation.

Most of VMC's 200-plus LPNs work throughout the Vanderbilt Medical Group, including clinics in Williamson County.

“It was my childhood dream to be in health care and help other people,” said Janice Flatt, L.P.N., Hillsboro Medical Group.

“I've been in nursing for 36 years and it makes me feel good to be officially included.“

Other highlights of the meeting include:

• Vanderbilt's 400-plus advanced practice nurses will have a more precise definition of their certification, scope of practice, privileging and accountability as well as revisions regarding their credentialing, faculty and billing status.

• A Nursing Quality Committee will be added to drive quality improvement through a plan that ensures evidence-based practice.

• A Nursing Research Committee will be added to facilitate integrating evidence into nursing practice and generating nursing knowledge through research activities

Planning for this year's convention started 12 months ago and involved committees on a variety of levels. Delegates were nominated by individual units and clinics, and included administrative directors, advanced practice nurses, case managers, clinical research staff, nurse educators, and staff nurses from each of the three Vanderbilt hospitals and all Vanderbilt clinics.

Nearly all units and clinics were represented.

“Today is an example of embracing and living the philosophy of shared governance,” said Dubree.

“These bylaws are who we are, how we run our business and, most importantly, a way we honor our staff and leaders.”