Nursing at NHRMC reaching higher standards

December 12, 2006
Nurses have always been at the center of the health care team. Today’s nurses are raising their own professional standards as their role in health care expands. Several changes have taken place at New Hanover Regional Medical Center over the past few years that give nurses in southeastern North Carolina an opportunity to practice at the highest professional level.

Certified nurses

NHRMC provides financial incentive and encouragement to nurses who want to gain national certification in their areas of specialty. As a result, more than 280 registered nurses are nationally certified, having completed additional training and testing in their specialty fields. “Nurses at NHRMC are committed to raising the standard of patient care and challenge themselves constantly to develop their proficiency,” said Christy Spivey, RN, NHRMC’s Magnet Project Coordinator. To earn certification, nurses must complete a rigorous exam and maintain a minimal number of practice hours in their specialty. That extra training results in better care for their patients. Also, nurses receive additional pay each year after they are certified. “Our community deserves the very best care,” said Mary Ellen Bonczek, RN, Chief Nurse Executive. “Our nurses are part of the dedicated health care team that strives each day to bring patients that level of care and service.”

Professional advancement

Other opportunities at New Hanover Regional allow nurses to advance in their clinical practice, such as the Professional Nursing Ladder. The Professional Nursing Ladder program encourages registered nurses to complete quality improvement and educational projects that directly enhance care for the patient. In the last year, the number of nurses applying to participate in this professional development program has increased by 125 percent. Nurses are rewarded financially for achieving each level of the professional ladder.

Electronic scheduling

In addition to encouraging nurses to achieve the highest level of professional training, the hospital has recently begun an electronic scheduling program that allows nurses to mange their own time more easily. eShift was introduced to certain pilot departments in July. Through eShift, units may post vacant shifts and nurses who want to work extra shifts may easily sign up. Staff nurses have greater flexibility in managing their own schedules and managers also benefit by filling available shifts without having to make many phone calls. eShift has since been introduced to more units throughout the hospital, and will be available on all units this winter.

Magnet nursing

Since achieving Magnet status in 2003, New Hanover Regional has reduced nursing turnover, increased nurses’ satisfaction, improved educational opportunities and provided more opportunity for nurses to govern themselves, said Spivey. But what does Magnet mean to the general public? “It means patients are getting better care,” Spivey said. “The nurses are better educated, they have more resources and they are considered leaders in patient care.”