Nearly 9,000 attendees went wild when AACN President Chris Schulman said one word during her keynote address at Monday’s SuperSession: staffing. Staffing is clearly a hot-button issue, and AACN is committed to finding answers to inappropriate staffing. The answers will come from the entire AACN community. All too often, staffing is seen as an operating cost rather than an investment in better patient care and outcomes. According to AACN’s draft version of “Guiding Principles for Appropriate Staffing,” “AACN is dedicated to creating a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and families where acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. When facing a challenge as complex as appropriate nurse staffing, AACN recognizes the importance and urgency of building greater awareness, consensus and, ultimately, momentum on the issue.”
During Tuesday’s special roundtable session, “Advancing Advocacy for Appropriate Staffing,” led by AACN president and staffing champion Chris Schulman, attendees gathered to hear success stories of facilities that have improved outcomes by addressing staffing issues, including one that reduced their CAUTIs and CLABSIs to zero, decreased hospital-acquired pressure ulcers from six to two and decreased patient falls 30 percent.
“Isn’t it so blatantly obvious that when you give staff nurses time and empowerment to figure it out, they will figure it out?” Schulman said. “But if you’re going to take on something of this magnitude, you have to have a thoughtful approach. This is really a moonshot — we’re doing big things and if we don’t play big, nothing will change.”
Schulman then turned the session over to attendees to collaborate on how to shape nine draft principles from “Guiding Principles” into their final form. Nurses were given 20 minutes to interact with one another and rate how each principle corresponds to their own points of view, and how likely and compelled they are to prompt staffing changes on an executive level.
For example, principle #7 states: “The complex challenge of appropriate staffing will require bold and innovative solutions. Organizations must embrace dramatic innovation to devise and systematically test new staffing models, including allocating time for nurses to work together away from direct patient care and … create solutions to care delivery challenges.”
This and the other draft principles had attendees’ gears turning, ideas flowing and solutions proposed, as we witnessed the beginning of a national collaborative to “figure it out.”