Since nurses are expected to be self-regulated professionals, we are legally and ethically obligated to identify and make a valid attempt to resolve all practice issues as they arise as a means to minimize potential negative impacts they may have on patients, our fellow colleagues, and daily operations. In part two of this three-part series, we will focus on how to identify resources and take action to improve practice issues in our work settings.
Let’s take a look at two strategies we can implement to gain a better understanding of what’s going on, so we can find the best way to resolve practice issues:
Please Note: If you have not read part one of this series, please do so before continuing. For those of you who have, let’s pick up where we left off and begin to identify our resources that can help us to tackle practice issues. Since we previously discussed identifying practice issues, the next step is to seek out resources that could be helpful as we move through the problem-solving process. Many helpful resources can be internal or external to your organization, and any that has the potential to be of assistance should be considered.
Here are examples of resources that you may want to consider for practice improvement:
Other Health Professionals
Standards of Practice
Nurse Practice Act from State Board of Nursing
Professional Journals and Other Publications
Agency Policies and Procedures
Code of Ethics
Although this is not a complete list of possible resources you may rely on to assist in resolving practice issues, they are some of the best options that offer a great deal of support and guidance.
After you have identified the necessary resources to use in improving practice issues, a planned, well thought out approach is essential to finding resolve. When forming an action plan, the following steps should be considered:
Brainstorm possible solutions to resolve the practice issues.
Determine the potential positive and negative outcomes for each solution identified.
Decide which solution(s) could be the best approach.
Develop a plan outlining the actions you will take and when you will implement the chosen solution(s).
The actions you take will depend on the practice issue you are facing, the level of support you gain from your team, and the resources you have available to you. Whatever action you choose, it is important to let your manager know so that they are aware and can provide support if required.
When discussing a practice issue with your supervisor, you should consider doing the following:
Be sure to provide a clear objective and detailed description of the practice issue, and include how the issue has impacted patient care/safety, nursing practice, team relations and work environment.
Structure conversations by using the standards of practice from your state’s Nurse Practice Act and Code of Ethics. These documents help to focus the conversation on the nurses’ professional responsibilities, keeping the conversation more objective.
Do your best to leave personal opinions and emotions out of the discussion as these typically make problem-solving more difficult in the work setting.
Offer possible solutions that could assist in resolving the issue(s).
Identify what you could do to support the resolution of the practice issue(s). It is important to note that nursing supervisors, management and leadership are also busy problem solving their own practice issues, and therefore will need you to play an active role in helping them to address the issues.
Be sure to follow up on any meetings with a written letter or email that stresses the importance of the finding solution to the practice issue(s). Be sure to ask for a reasonable date in which you can expect to hear back from the supervisors, managers and nursing leadership regarding moving forward with an action plan.
Much like most of what we do in nursing practice, approaching nursing supervisors, managers and leadership requires a great deal of tact and professionalism. We don’t always get this right at first, but I’ve found from experience that if you are authentic, genuine and have good intentions when you are approaching management with practice issues, a strong leader will embrace your efforts to create positive change and they will help you to find solution to the practice issue in the best way they can.
So far we have discussed four steps in resolving practice issues within our nursing practice:
Identifying Practice Issues
Fully Exploring the Anticipated Effect and Outcomes of the Practice Issue(s)
Be sure to stay tuned for part three - where we will discuss the final two strategies in resolving practice issues for nursing success!