UTHCT is first academic medical center in UT System to be named ‘Nurse-Friendly®’ hospital by Texas Nurses Association

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has been named a “Nurse-Friendly®” hospital by the Texas Nurses Association, one of just 31 hospitals in Texas to achieve this distinction.

“Being named a ‘Nurse-Friendly®”’ hospital means the Health Center provides an environment that respects the value of nurses and ensures quality patient care. We’re the first academic medical center in The University of Texas System to achieve this designation,” said Kleanthe Caruso, UTHSCT’s vice president for Patient Care Operations and chief nursing officer.

“We’re proud of this accomplishment. It’s the result of efforts by both staff and management to create an atmosphere where nurses are valued. And it shows that Tyler is a city where nurses have excellent opportunities to pursue their profession,” Caruso said.

To achieve Nurse-Friendly® status, a hospital undergoes a vigorous review that includes a confidential online survey of nurses working at the facility. Nurses are asked if the hospital is committed to nurses and if it values their contributions to the pursuit of safe, quality patient care. Survey results must confirm that 12 essential elements of an ideal nursing environment exist in the hospital. The Nurse-Friendly® designation lasts three years, after which the hospital is evaluated again.

UTHSCT President Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun said, “It’s common sense that creating an atmosphere where nurses can thrive translates into committed nurses who are providing positive patient outcomes. UT Health Science Center is dedicated to supporting the 12 essential standards of an ideal nursing environment.”

The TNA introduced the program two years ago in response to research that showed a link between direct nursing care and positive patient outcomes. Since 1998, the nursing profession has been experiencing a severe workforce shortage. Nurses who were passionate about caring for patients were being driven out of the profession because of their work environment, the TNA said. Nurses are the largest part of the health care workforce.

Using ideas and suggestions from nurses, the TNA developed a set of 12 research-based standards that define a workplace atmosphere where nursing can thrive and quality patient care can be delivered. These standards are the criteria on which the Nurse-Friendly® program is based. They include giving nurses more control over the care they give patients, ensuring that nurses work in a safe environment, having systems in place to address patient care concerns, providing nurses with opportunities for professional development, and demonstrating a commitment to evidence-based medicine and better patient outcomes.

Helen Miner, Ph.D., RN, director of the Lake Country Area Health Education Center on the UTHSCT campus, has been involved with the Nurse-Friendly® Hospital Project for three years. The project was funded by a five-year $1.2 million federal grant to the TNA and the East Texas AHEC to work with small and rural hospitals.

“The purpose of the Nurse-Friendly® initiative was to show that improving the working environment increases the recruitment and retention of registered nurses,” Dr. Miner said.

“The Health Center shared information and worked to demonstrate that it meets the 12 criteria that research has shown increase the retention and recruitment of nurses. The Health Center is the only medical center in Texas that achieved Nurse-Friendly® status with its acute care and outpatient clinic nurses,” she said.

The TNA is a professional organization of registered nurses and the only Texas affiliate of the American Nurses Association. The organization promotes quality patient care by encouraging high standards in nursing practice, legislative involvement, and public policy advocacy.

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