Year after year, Gallop polls reflect that Americans rate nurses as having the highest honesty and ethical standards of all professions. However, being so well-respected doesn’t mean working without challenges. Nurses deal with life and death issues, critically ill patients and worried family members – on a daily basis. One Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of nurses in Pennsylvania showed that “more than a third reported high levels of emotional exhaustion,” a key component of career burnout. In a field fraught with constant, multiple stressors, official recognition for a job well done can be an uplifting ingredient for maintaining passion for the professional and inspiring even greater achievements.
“Meaningful recognition,” as put forth by the American Association of Critical-Care Nursing (AACN) in its 2005 report AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments, means nurses must be recognized and must recognize others for the value each brings to the work of the organization.
“Meaningful recognition is a professional and heartfelt way to express to nurses just how – and how much – their dedication, compassion and expertise has made a difference in the lives of the patients we serve and our colleagues," said Mary Del Guidice, RN, MSN, BS, CENP, chief nursing officer at Pennsylvania Hospital (PAH). “And as nurses, it’s important that we recognize others for the value they bring to the work and success of our institution.”
It’s also one of the six elements identified by the AACN that are associated with healthy work environments: skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision making, appropriate staffing, meaningful recognition, and authentic leadership.
As the AACN also points out (and I suspect that most nurses know), unhealthy work environments contribute to medical errors, ineffective delivery of care, conflict and stress among health professionals.
“Negative atmospheres and unsafe or demoralizing conditions are all obstacles to a healthy work environment. Yet a healthy work environment is imperative to ensure patient safety and good outcomes and to enhance nursing staff recruitment and retention,” said Del Guidice.
Within a period of few weeks this summer, PAH’s department of Nursing received its own spotlight of meaningful recognition by being awarded three prestigious awards: the Emergency Nurses Association’s (ENA) Lantern Award for excellence in Emergency Medicine Nursing; theAACN’s Silver Beacon Award for critical care excellence; and the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) Leadership Award.
Shown above – the Nursing team of PAH’s Emergency Department.
While all U.S. emergency departments are eligible to apply for the Lantern Award, only a select few meet the highest excellence standards for leadership, education, nursing practice, research and advocacy each year. Emergency departments are required to submit detailed performance metrics, narratives and exemplar responses. A team of reviewers thoroughly evaluate the submissions via a blind review process, thus adding to the awards prestige.
PAH is one of only 58 of the 5,004 emergency departments in the U.S. to have received the Lantern Award.
The silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence, earned by the critical care team at PAH, signifies continuous learning and effective systems to achieve optimal patient care. The team had to meet the evidence-based Beacon Award for Excellence criteria: leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and staff engagement; effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development; evidence-based practice and processes; and outcome measurement.
Shown above is the Critical Care team at PAH.
Rounding out the three honors is Judy Ann Vitali, BSN, RNC-NIC, CIME, CPFI, CHBE, a clinical nurse 4 in PAH’s Intensive Care Nursery, who received the Leadership Award for being a nurse who exhibits superior leadership skills and demonstrates consistent excellence in practice.
“The achievement of all of these awards is emblematic of the level of knowledge and expertise of our nursing staff and of our professional commitment to the relentless pursuit of excellence in patient centered care,” said Del Guidice.
Now that’s meaningful.