May 13, 2005

Recruitment, retention among top Nursing goals

Featured Image

Jennifer Ezell, left, an acute care nurse practitioner, was given the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Faculty Nurse Award by Marilyn Dubree, chief nursing officer, at the annual State of Nursing address last week.
photo by Kats Barry

Recruitment, retention among top Nursing goals

Vanderbilt Medical Center is succeeding in efforts to recruit and retain nurses, and those efforts will increase in the coming year as new initiatives emerge to bolster patient safety and nursing quality as well as nurses' job satisfaction, said Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn A. Dubree, M.S.N.

In her annual State of Nursing Address delivered on May 6, Dubree described some of the achievements of the past year, announced the winners of various nursing awards, and provided an overview of new initiatives that will shape the work of Vanderbilt nurses in the coming year.

Excluding faculty members of the School of Nursing, the Medical Center employs roughly 3,000 nurses, including 2,500 staff nurses and 500 advance practice nurses, nurse managers and nurse administrators.

“I believe we're going in exactly the right direction and I believe we're going there at a great rate of speed,” Dubree told a near-capacity crowd that had gathered in Light Hall. “I'm exceedingly proud of the awesome work you do every day.”

She led with a summary of the increasing recognition that VUMC has garnered for patient care in general and for nursing in particular, including being named Outstanding Employer of 2004 by the Tennessee Nurses Association.

Dubree noted that in recent years the process for selecting nurse recruits has been refined, a nurse residency program has been established for new graduates, the nurse preceptor program has grown and a new system is in place to ensure that nurse managers connect substantively with new recruits during the first months of employment.

The nursing unit shared governance system was given a shot in the arm in the past year, ensuring that staff have a greater say in how work is structured at the unit level.

In October Vanderbilt hosted a nurse wellness conference that drew a national audience.

Dubree said Vanderbilt fully recognizes that wellness is vital for the work of nurses.

“If nurses are healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically, they bring a much better self to care for patients and their families,” she said.

Dubree linked all these efforts to elevate, which is a more recent and wide-ranging effort to improve service and operational performance at VUMC.

“We're creating a place where people want to work, and they tell us that every day.”

It's all paying off, Dubree said. Nurse job turnover at Vanderbilt dropped to 10.8 percent last year, compared with 11 percent the year before. The national figure is 14 percent. The goal is to reduce nurse turnover to below 10 percent, Dubree said.

The latest job turnover and vacancy rates were all the more positive when one considers that Vanderbilt hired 660 new nurses in 2004, she said.

Magnet status is the American Nurses Credentialing Center's highest designation for organizations that provide the services of registered nurses. Looking to the coming year, Dubree noted that Vanderbilt is continuing the lengthy process of gathering documentation for submission to receive recognition as a Magnet institution.

She said an automated nurse scheduling system has been selected, that it will make scheduling easier for staff, and that patient safety will benefit from a tighter match between staffing and the patient volume and acuity encountered on any given nursing shift. Testing of the system is scheduled to begin in the fall and full implementation is scheduled for next spring.

A nursing clinical documentation system has been selected, and Dubree said one of the chief benefits will be better communication of patient information as patients move between various areas of the hospital. Implementation is scheduled to begin in November.


The following awards were presented at last week’s State of Nursing presentation:

2005 VUSN Faculty Nurse Award: Jennifer L. Ezell, lecturer, School of Nursing — Given to the faculty member who has made the greatest contribution to the field of nursing.

2005 Friend of Nursing Award: James W. Kendall, administrative manager, Work/Life Connections and Employee Assistance Program — Honors individuals who support and recognize the importance of nursing in the delivery of health care.

2005 Innovative Practice Award: Michelle K. Terrell, nurse practitioner, Pediatric Critical Care Unit — Recognizing innovation and leadership in nursing.

The 2005 Rosamond Gabrielson Staff Nurse Award was shared by the 25 staff nurses who this year advanced to RN levels III and IV in the Vanderbilt Professional Nursing Practice Program.

New RN IV nurses include Barbara Konz, Marcia Free, Ray Parker, Andrea Delmotte and Edie Vaughn.

New RN III nurses include Mary Ann Jorissen, Cheryl Russell, Andre Casa, Margaret Hays, Staci Thomas, Trish Campbell, Stephanie Vaughn, Erin McCord, Brenda Zarth, Janet Clabough, Brenda Hughey, Margo McClain, Debbie Patterson, Maria Stringer, Angela Allen, Jimmy Keith, Christy McKinnie, Dana Teasley and Laura Jarosemich.