Nurse Coaches Improve Quality, Safety and Service

A few years ago, I started working with two hospitals to train and embed nurse coaches in inpatient units. Their goal was to provide staff with ongoing feedback on behaviors tied to quality, safety, and service. Their results have been significant on all three fronts.

Nurse Coaches in Action

The nurse coaches were trained to observe and give feedback on evidence-based practices in nursing including hourly rounding, bedside shift report, whiteboards, and service standards. Further, their coaching role extended to physicians and ancillary staff as well. Anyone coming in contact with patients was considered a potential coaching opportunity. After all, the patient experience includes all encounters.

Was it easy? No. As with any change, the nurse coaches encountered some resistance, but with time, the staff and physicians saw the coaches as their partners, not white-glove inspectors. As a result, they saw their patient experience score go from the 30th percentile to the 75th percentile in the first year and infection and fall rates drop. These metrics earned them a well-deserved recognition from administration and the system executives. As a result of this process, the entire team learned what they were capable of.

One of the keys to their success is having nurses as the coaches. This allows them to be another set of hands to toilet, give a prn medication, and assist in CAUTI and CLABSI prevention while coaching to improve the patient experience.

The Results

A recent conversation with the hospital CNOs helped summarize their evolution. “We have become a coaching culture where feedback is not just commonplace. It is just a normal part of our culture,” one said.

Today’s nurse leaders are stretched thin. By having another professional making consistent patient rounds and supporting the staff in achieving their safety goals, these hospitals have developed a true coaching culture. It’s a win for the staff, the managers, and the organization, but most importantly, it has improved patient safety and experience.

Curious about how this would work in your organization? Set up a free strategy call. Email and mention nurse coaches.

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