Em­pow­er­ing nurses to de­liver bet­ter care through re­search

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - —By Shelby Liv­ingston

Mary Dee Hacker has spent her decades-long ca­reer em­pow­er­ing nurses to make clin­i­cal de­ci­sions and find bet­ter ways to de­liver care to chil­dren.

Start­ing as a staff nurse at the Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Los Angeles in 1975, she has risen through the ranks to her cur­rent role as vice pres­i­dent of nurs­ing and in­ter­pro­fes­sional re­search.

Through­out her ca­reer, Hacker, 65, launched sev­eral ini­tia­tives tied to re­search and ed­u­ca­tion that have trans­formed and strength­ened not only the nurs­ing work­force at CHLA, but also at hos­pi­tals across the U.S.

In 1999, she spear­headed the cre­ation of a rig­or­ous 22-week res­i­dency pro­gram for nurses com­ing to the hospi­tal straight from school with a goal of re­duc­ing the turnover rate CHLA was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing with new nurses. The pro­gram mixed teach­ing with ac­tual clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence to in­still con­fi­dence and com­pe­tence in the new nurses.

“Be­cause of the rigor in their tran­si­tion from stu­dent nurses to clin­i­cians, they progress not only clin­i­cally, but as teach­ers, re­searchers and lead­ers,” Hacker said.

The res­i­dency pro­gram helped re­duce the 24-month turnover rate of new grad­u­ate nurses to 8.9% from as high as 56% in the years be­fore. It also led to the launch of the Ver­sant RN Res­i­dency, which is used by hos­pi­tals across the na­tion.

Hacker has con­sis­tently sup­ported a hospi­tal en­vi­ron­ment that al­lows front-line nurses to make key de­ci­sions af­fect­ing clin­i­cal prac­tice and care. The hospi­tal has pro­vided in­cen­tives and tu­ition as­sis­tance for nurses to achieve ad­vanced de­grees—a ben­e­fit that has kept staff sat­is­fied and chal­lenged.

“My com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lent clin­i­cal care is de­pen­dent on hav­ing a well-ed­u­cated work­force,” she said. “The more we do to in­vest in the knowl­edge of the pro­fes­sion­als in the work­force, the bet­ter the care will be of those we serve.”

Hacker now is head­ing up the hospi­tal’s In­sti­tute for Nurs­ing and In­ter­pro­fes­sional Re­search, which pro­vides fund­ing for nurses to do re­search and find so­lu­tions to prob­lems in care de­liv­ery.

“We have a cul­ture across all dis­ci­plines of re­ally want­ing to ques­tion why we do things a cer­tain way, and ask ‘is there a bet­ter way to do this?’ With the launch of the In­sti­tute, the hospi­tal will be in­vest­ing funds for bed­side clin­i­cians to ask the ques­tions and be sup­ported in their re­search rigor to find bet­ter ways of de­liv­er­ing care,” she said.

MARY DEE HACKER Vice pres­i­dent of nurs­ing and in­ter­pro­fes­sional re­search Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Los Angeles

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