South Florida Hospital News
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November 2004 - Volume 1 - Issue 4

This is a Very Exciting Time to be a Nurse – International Nursing Leader Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady to be Featured Speaker for Boca Raton Nursing Conference

Dr Tim Porter-O’Grady will be the keynote speaker when the Ron and Kathy Assaf Center for Excellence in Nursing at Boca Raton Community Hospital presents its 2004 conference, "Building the Pillars of Excellence" on November 30 and December 1, 2004.

Dr. Porter-O’Grady is an internationally recognized expert in nursing, health care futures and organizational change and is one of the foremost nursing leaders in the country. He is the founder and Senior Partner in Tim Porter-O’Grady Associates, a consulting firm that assists health care organizations with cultural change, system re-design, leadership strategies and mediation. Dr. Porter-O’Grady holds degrees in nursing, administration, learning behavior and health systems; he is a certified clinical specialist in gerontology and is a graduate of the Mediation Program at Harvard University.

Despite his extensive and distinguished credentials, Dr. Porter-O’Grady identifies himself first as a nurse and is a champion of the profession that he considers "the most precious resource in the American health care system." His presentation in Boca Raton is entitled "New Realities for Practice: Nursing in the 21st Century."

Those new realities that are confronting and challenging the nursing profession are the emergence of the new technologies that are rapidly changing therapeutics, the shift from an institutional-based model of care to a mobility-based model and the primary role of the family and significant others, rather than the medical professionals, as the caregivers. These three trends represent an enormous paradigm shift – one for which the medical and nursing professions, as well as the health care industry, have not been adequately prepared.

According to Porter-O’Grady, "The average length of stay, just ten years ago, was 5.2 days, and that has been reduced by half. Most healing and caring time is therefore occurring in the home, not the hospital. This means that we have to be able to transfer our skill set to the non-professional. It calls on us to practice differently and to acquire new skills. And yet the great majority of doctors and nurses learned to give care within the old model. It’s a drastic change that means we have to re-orient and relinquish some control."

The formidable task facing nurses in the hospital is to determine how to care well for patients in the brief time available before they are discharged and also to turn over their care to others in a manner that best serves the patients safety and recovery. Daunting though this may sound, Porter-O’Grady is optimistic and even excited about the future of nursing and of the American health care system. He believes that these "new realities" demand an individual and collective introspection into the implications for practice in the future.

"We have to rethink how and where we provide services. Consider how many diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are now taking place in settings other than the hospital. How do we maintain standards of clinical care when we have less direct control over the performance of the caregivers? How do we make the transition from providing care to teaching and sharing our skills, and maintain our own proficiency? It calls for new roles, training and expectations. It means we will need new leaders, new models of care and a willingness to learn new ways of thinking and practicing."

Porter-O’Grady considers this "the work of our time" and is enthusiastic about the possibilities inherent for nursing within this enormous cultural and professional transition. He encourages nurses to embrace this future and participate in redefining the profession to make it viable, relevant and effective in a new century that will continue to witness change at an unprecedented pace.

Clearly, the future that Porter-O’Grady describes is one that will require strong and visionary leadership. He believes that the nursing profession is experiencing a leadership crisis and that nurses need to face this and step up to claim their power and be the primary force for positive change.

"Nurses are the key resource in health care. However, hospitals have done a very poor job at caring for nurses. We are noticed more for our absence than for our presence – as soon as there is a ‘shortage,’ everyone is crying, "Oh my God we need nurses!"

In fact, he believes, the current shortage is a problem of replacement rather than retention.

"Nursing actually has the highest retention rate of any profession. The problem is in the replacement rate; young people are simply not choosing nursing as a career. The nurses who are now retiring went into nursing when it was one of the few available choices, and so nursing had the best and the brightest. But the kind of smart, committed women and men who used to go into nursing now have unlimited options and we have lost them," he says.

One positive trend is that high numbers of mature, college-educated women are now entering nursing as a second career and Porter-O’Grady views this as a bonus for the profession.

"I have never regretted my choice of nursing. I could not have had the career that I have in any other profession. Nursing is unmatched for work that has meaning, value and purpose. It is a profession that closes no doors, giving opportunities that would be unlikely elsewhere. Nursing has range, flexibility and fluidity; we are a large, diverse, versatile group of professionals and the future is unlimited for a nurse who has her eyes wide open and can look beyond the everyday and adapt to change. This is a very exciting time to be a nurse."

In this critical time in health care, nurses can and must play a dynamic and prominent role in transforming the future of health care. Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady challenges nurses to think creatively and courageously in order to thrive in the new century.

To contact Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady, call (706) 746-7575 or write to him at his web site,

"Building the Pillars of Nursing Leadership" Conference to Take Place in Delray Beach

Boca Raton Community Hospital is sponsoring a regional nursing conference, in partnership with the Nursing Leadership Institute at Florida Atlantic University, on November 30 and December 1, 2004. The conference is titled "Building the Pillars of Nursing Leadership" and will feature international nursing consultant and futurist Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady as keynote speaker. The conference will take place at the Delray Beach Marriott.

The conference is presented in support of the mission of the Ron and Kathy Assaf Center for Excellence in Nursing at BRCH. The Center was developed in 2002 to reward and recognize excellence and innovation in patient care and to enhance outstanding programs to ensure quality in nursing education, technology, patient care and recruitment and retention for today and for the future.

For registration forms or information, contact Becky Southern, RN, MS, at (561) 955-5111 or For hotel information, call 877-4DELRAY.
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