South Florida Hospital News
Thursday August 6, 2020
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June 2006 - Volume 2 - Issue 12
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South Florida Nurse Executives Envision a Bright Future for Nursing

I am very optimistic about the future of nursing. As we confront the difficult challenges that face us today, nurses are gaining credibility with other disciplines, with legislators and with the public. We are being heard and respected, not only for our compassion, but also for our science. We have a body of scientific knowledge and this is finally being recognized.

With those words, Mark Sprada, MBA, BSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for Imperial Point Medical Center, offers a strongly positive outlook on the future of nursing, despite the daunting obstacles and complex issues that are challenging the profession in this new century. Sprada acknowledges those difficulties and deals with them personally on a daily basis, but he believes that they will be surmounted in the resourceful ways that have always characterized nurses, and will in fact strengthen nursing.

"I think there are four primary issues that challenge nursing today. They are 1) the increasing complexity of patients; 2) the nursing shortage; 3) increased accountability for patient safety; and 4) increased accountability for quality patient outcomes. The first two are related; hospital patients are both medically and socially more complex than ever before, and this means that they require much more coordination of care and different approaches to patient education and discharge planning. This demands more from nurses, at a time when there is a significant shortage of nurses Ė so we have a situation where we are asking a smaller number of people to do a greater amount of work."

One strategy that Sprada is utilizing to deal with these issues is partnerships with the universities, in an effort to prepare nurses who will be more effective with complex patients. This means better preparing new nurses as well as providing experienced nurses with opportunities to further their education and develop the skills they need in todayís workplace.

"Nurses need to be skilled in communication, conflict resolution and negotiation. They need to have a deep understanding of disease processes and chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. We are giving nurses detailed internships in certain clinical specialties, to help them develop expertise."

Joey Bulfin, RN, BSN, MBA, Chief Nursing Officer for St. Maryís Medical Center, part of Tenet South Florida Health System, agrees that nurses need advanced skills and competencies for professional success today.

"Nursing has become so specialized, and this is a positive development. Specialization means better care for patients. The goal for nurses is to choose a specialty within nursing and become excellent in that field," she says. "Thatís the path to quality."

Bulfin is pleased that quality in health care has become a more public issue.

"Quality needs to be publicly reported. Quality used to be a closed matter, measured and reported internally, but now morbidity and mortality rates, rates of infection and errors are publicly reported. This has made health care more accountable."

Striving for excellence, Bulfin believes, needs to be a goal for health care institutions and for individuals, and she promotes excellence among her staff in a variety of ways. She is excited about a program initiated by Tenet Healthcare called the Nurse Leadership Academy, which prepares nurses for management roles by helping them develop the competencies they will need to succeed as leaders.

"Weíve sent eight nurses to the program and they were thrilled with it," she says. "It gives them front line, practical management tools and teaches them to be problem solvers and critical thinkers. Itís a significant investment in them, and we feel that itís worthwhile."

The Nurse Leadership Academy also serves as a retention tool, helping to keep the most competent and experienced nurses in the workforce. Bulfin is convinced that nurses have to become better leaders in order for the profession to rise above the many challenges facing it today.

"It wonít be easy, but nurses are resilient. We have to be smart about the skills and competencies we need to succeed. We are facing a critical shortage, and in order to reverse that, we have to promote the profession to young people. We have to counter the media image of nursing and convince young people of the wonderful opportunities in nursing."

Bulfin is an enthusiastic ambassador for nursing careers. "I love nursing," she says. "A nursing career is unrestricted, filled with opportunities, versatile, flexible and family friendly. You can advance your career in so many directions and always have job security. The public,"ER" image is very technical and physical and doesnít convey the complexity of what nurses do. Itís a lot tougher than the media image, but nurses love what they do and get tremendous personal satisfaction. We have to emphasize these strengths and educate young people about careers in health care."

"Being a nurse is a wonderful thing; every day we touch lives in hundreds of ways. People remember their nurses, and a nurse can go home every day knowing that she had a positive effect on others lives."

Mark Sprada can be reached at (954) 776-8500. Joey Bulfin can be reached at (561) 882-6476.
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