May 26, 2006

This Magnet journey has soundtrack

Featured Image

Kristin Conniff, R.N., B.S.N., on 7 North, listens to a headset with a recorded guide through Magnet status as she looks at printed Magnet material along the hallway of the unit.
Photo by Dana Johnson

This Magnet journey has soundtrack

On Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Cardiology step-down units, health care professionals don't just talk about Magnet — they walk the walk.

Magnet champions and unit managers have developed an educational program that is, quite literally, in step with VUMC's Magnet Recognition process. The program incorporates background on the Medical center's pursuit of Magnet Recognition, the 14 Forces of Magnetism and a quick-reference guide — all within the theme of a “Magnet Journey.”

“The Magnet process makes you think about everything you're doing professionally and even personally,” said Lisa Eason, R.N. “We've started a journey that continues to evolve and helps us grow as individuals and as a team.”

Magnet Recognition is the highest level of recognition for health care centers that provide nursing care determined by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Only 2 percent of hospitals in the country are Magnet Hospitals. VUMC has more than 170 Magnet Champions or staff leaders representing every major department and clinic. The accreditation process will culminate with a site-visit this summer.

The 120-person staff of 6 South and 7 North treat up to 47 patients at a time with wide ranging issues such as cardiac surgery post-op, heart failure, arrhythmia, interventional patients with pacemakers or stent replacements and patients who may live on the unit for many months while awaiting a heart transplant. Developing a creative and educational approach to Magnet was a big challenge because the unit is physically split between two floors of Vanderbilt University Hospital, but Magnet Champions Lisa Eason, Dorothy Terrell, Susan Hellervik and Laura Dailey worked closely with Judy Araque, manager for 6 South and 7 North, Renee McKibben, assistant manager for 6 South, and Leslie Denton, assistant manager for 7 North.

They knew that previous cardiac patients and family members enjoyed participating in “Walk Across America,” a unit-specific exercise program that encourages patients to walk 17 laps (which equals one mile) while listening to a tape recorded tour of nature photography displayed throughout the unit. Using that program as inspiration, the team of managers and Magnet Champions developed a multi-layered program to infuse Magnet into everything the unit does.

On the Unit Board wall, there are 17 different plaques explaining VUMC's Pursuit of Magnet Recognition. Staff, patients and/or family members can slip on a headset to get started. The narrator explains each major Magnet concept one-by-one. After each, the listener is asked to stop the tape, walk a lap and start the tape again to learn about the next concept.

The narrator explains specific examples of how 6 South and 7 North embody standards of excellence. For instance, Force 7 focuses on quality improvement and cites how performing chart audits have resulted in decreased fall rates. Force 11 emphasizes nurses as teachers. The narrator explains that VUMC cardiology nurses teach patients and their families from the start of the admission process through diagnosis, the disease process, medication and discharge planning. After completing the one-mile Magnet Journey walk, staff members receive a certificate.

To reinforce the aural education, each staff member also has his or her own pocket-sized Trip Tik — a play off the American Automobile Association's trip planning notebooks. The Cardiology Step-Down TripTik starts in the 25th Avenue parking garage, where most staff people park, and traces a line through the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, The Vanderbilt Clinic and into 6 South and 7 North at VUH. The reference guide contains several pages that explain the Magnet Recognition program, followed by an extensive list of potential questions staff may be asked during the Magnet site visit.

“We developed these questions, but we didn't provide answers,” said Denton. “This entire process isn't about scripted answers. It's about everyone thinking about their own examples and sharing their own stories with the surveyors.”

So whether the staff members learn by listening, exercising or reading, whether they have 20 minutes to walk their Magnet Journey laps or just a few minutes to review some Trip Tik questions, the Cardiac Step-Down units are making great strides toward the goal of Magnet Recognition and excellence in care.

As the unit's mission statement states: “We do what we do for the certainty that at some time and in some way we may be able to make a difference.”