How can teamwork, leadership and technology help nurses and patients?

When nurses work as a team, it does a lot to improve the work atmosphere and the quality of patient care. The modern medical system lacks workers, making it important that healthcare employees excel at teamwork and efficiency.

By this token, technology can help team members communicate better and monitor patients with greater consistency and accuracy. Technology is advancing every day, and at a quicker rate than many people realize. It makes sense for arguably the most important global industry to utilize this rate of improvement to benefit both nurses and patients. In this article, we’ll explore the use of technology in modern medical environments and how nurses can provide better-quality patient care as a result of better technology.

The vital role of teamwork

Better communication reduces mistakes

Nurses and medical staff need to have clear lines of communication and technology. In the past, when people had to talk face to face or through a phone extension on a landline at best, it took time to communicate even the most basic information. Now, using software and databases, patient information is constantly updated. This means that anyone with access to the system can see what medications and treatments a patient needs when they need it, and any past medical history.

Having accurate and consistently up-to-date patient records prevents mistakes and saves a lot of time, thus allowing nurses to provide more patients with a high level of care. The prevention of medical mistakes is critical to avoiding potentially deadly consequences.

Cell phones have been very helpful in allowing medical staff to communicate as they move throughout a facility. Not being tied to landline extensions has been revolutionary at medium to larger medical facilities. Text messaging also allows for less disruptive communications than phone calls.

Good teamwork means correct delegation

There is always a lot to do at any medical or assisted living facility. The delegation of tasks among nurses and other medical staff needs to be well organized but fluid. Human resources must be used as efficiently as possible. This means that tasks should be assigned based on education level, experience, etc. This allows those with advanced medical training to best utilize these skills so that patients receive more efficient and skilled care than they might otherwise.

At the same time, there are emergencies where even the most skilled nurses and physicians may need to take on other duties that are typically handled by staff members who are less skilled. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the delegation of tasks reflected how busy and short-staffed practically all medical facilities were.

Empathy and camaraderie are crucial

There are times when one department or even a single nurse will not be so busy, while another team member is struggling with a task. Offering help when you can or knowing that you can call in some assistance when emergencies happen is essential to providing a high level of care.

Knowing that your team is supportive and there is excellent for workplace morale and overall job satisfaction. When nurses and staff feel supported and satisfied, this is reflected in the level of care they offer patients on a daily basis.

Nursing leaders and mentors should encourage self-care

Burnout and stress are all too common in the medical community. Nurses, especially those who are just starting their careers, can find it hard not to overwork themselves. While sacrificing your own needs for those of your patients may sound noble, there is a point where not taking care of yourself can actually have a major impact on the quality of care you are capable of administering to your patients. When you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or burned out, it can lead to serious mistakes.

Nurses should be encouraged to have a hobby or daily activity that they do just for themselves, even if it is only for 30 minutes a day. Even just a little bit of ‘me time’ can make a big difference in morale and mindset. Doing something before bedtime that is relaxing and takes your mind off work-related issues can help you get the rest you need to be refreshed at the start of your shift.

A good diet is also important. It is very easy when you work hard and take long shifts to eat whatever is easiest and most convenient. Unfortunately, a lot of these foods are not good for you when consumed regularly. Offering healthier snacks and options in staff lounge areas and cafeterias is important. Larger medical facilities should consider offering free or discounted gym memberships or even creating an exercise space that is available to staff outside of work hours.

Teamwork allows for better networking and collaboration

Networking with other professionals has a lot of benefits. For starters, it is important to form a professional network because you can offer each other support and guidance regardless of where you might be in your career. It is common to hear about potential opportunities for advanced positions or research projects that may be appealing to you.

Medical staff receive lower insurance costs

There is a lot of talk in the news about the rising cost of healthcare. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that people are living longer with more chronic conditions. Insurance premiums cost more when healthcare costs are on average higher. Some people reading this article may have noticed just how much their premiums have gone up over the last few years.

When healthcare work is performed with greater efficiency and fewer mistakes, it can help costs to stay lower. This can really add up if efforts are made at all major medical facilities to encourage efficiency and teamwork.

Nursing leaders should encourage professional accountability

Nurses must be held accountable for their actions at all times. No one should be allowed to negate their duties or reduce the quality of care they offer and therefore make another nurse have to take up their slack. If it becomes apparent that someone is slacking on their duties, then the issue should be addressed immediately, and a plan made for improvement going forward.

Encouraging nurses and staff members to be open and communicative when they make an honest mistake is critical to maintaining efficiency and offering high-quality care. This means not going overboard with lecturing or recriminations for mistakes, but rather treating them on a case-by-case basis. You do not want a working environment where nurses are afraid to admit when a mistake has been made because they are fearful of over-the-top repercussions.

Feedback should be welcomed

Patient and workplace surveys and comment cards are important to keep up with what is going on at any medical facility. Regardless of how diligent you may be as a nursing leader or administrator, it is impossible to know how things are going or how they look from the perspective of others.

Surveys via text message, email or anonymously written cards are all options for receiving feedback. It is common for medical facilities to send out surveys after a patient receives care so that they can get feedback that is useful for improving care and the overall patient experience.

Nurses should be open to change

Throughout your career, there will be times of change regardless of the type of facility you work at. Some of these changes may be welcome, while others may seem more troublesome or likely to make your job harder and more complicated. Learning how to use new technology or administer treatments differently can take some time that you might not feel you really have to give.

Nurses need to embrace change when it occurs and think about what they can do to make this change go smoothly and have the maximum positive impact. Being resistant to change makes things harder on you and your patients alike.

Automation helps healthcare workers take bigger caseloads

The use of robots for some basic tasks at medical facilities helps free up time for nurses to perform tasks that require more skill or, at the very least, spend more time with patients who need more emotional support. Examples of medical robots include transport robots that deliver medications and equipment throughout a facility.

Automated medication dispensing reduces monitoring time

The use of smart pumps ensures that patients receive a steady dose of the meds they need without nurses having to spend as much time monitoring the IV drip. Any issues with the IV or a patient’s vitals will issue an alert to the nurse in charge of that patient so that they can quickly tend to their needs. This can eliminate having to make so many regular rounds just to check IVs.

Smart beds monitor vital signals

It is just a matter of time before all hospital beds will be able to monitor a patient’s vital signs and movements without a nurse having to regularly perform these checks. This means no more taking temperatures, blood pressure or other measurements every so many hours.

Constant monitoring of vitals and movements allows for a faster reaction time if anything starts to go wrong regarding a patient’s health. While in the past a nurse would be told to check vitals every so many hours, the bed is able to monitor these vitals at all times, so there is no risk of vital signs reaching dangerous levels without anyone knowing about it for hours.

Smart beds will free up nurses to take care of more serious tasks and treatments. By having the option to monitor vital signs remotely, nurses can more easily prioritize their time toward patients who need more serious attention.

Telehealth furthers medical reach

While some illnesses and treatments require a patient to be seen in person, many checkups and common medical issues can be addressed via telehealth. Plenty of people have utilized healthcare services online to obtain prescription refills for medications they need when their normal doctor is not available or if they forgot to make an appointment soon enough. Urinary tract infections and colds or flu-like symptoms are other basic healthcare needs that online doctors can help with.

Plenty of regular doctor’s offices and centers use telehealth for some basic services. This is especially useful during periods when the risk of certain illnesses may be high or the patient has a compromised immune system.

Nursing leaders are greatly needed

It has been known for a long time that there is a major shortage of nurses and other medical workers in North America. What is not often discussed is how long this shortage is set to continue given the current rates of enrollment in nursing schools and the sheer number of nurses who have reached retirement age.

There is a large population of aging adults require more and more healthcare as they live longer with chronic conditions. The Covid-19 pandemic also led to a lot more people experiencing long-term healthcare concerns.

Over the next few decades, the demand for advanced-level nurses and nursing leaders will be very high. There are few barriers to advancement for nurses who start their careers now and gain the experience and education they need to work in higher-level positions. If you are currently a registered nurse (RN), it is never too soon to gain an advanced degree and further your skills so that you are in the best position possible for promotions and other opportunities.

How to become a nursing leader

Obtain your RN license and gain work experience

To be a good leader, you need to gain a lot of experience within your field. Having a minimum of two to three years experience as an RN is helpful before you take on a full-time leadership role. Of course, during that time, you could also be earning an advanced degree.

Gain as much experience as you can managing a team

There may be opportunities to lead a team on a project or take on extra duties that place you in a role where you are in charge of keeping others on task. Look for opportunities to gain management and teambuilding experience wherever you can.

Work on your listening and communication skills

Nursing leaders must have excellent listening and communication skills. When you are managing others, you need to be able to pay a lot of attention and keep your thoughts organized. Good written and oral communication skills reduce the odds of miscommunication and mistakes.

Gain a Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Nurse Leader degree

Getting the right advanced degree will ensure that you have the skills you need to be a strong nursing leader in modern medicine. The MSN-CNL program offered by Cleveland State University can be completed in as little as one year and seven months. The courses are entirely online except for the 500 hours of required clinical experience.

Network with nursing leaders

It is important to network with other nursing administrators for support, guidance and professional companionship. Networking allows leaders to learn from each other’s experiences and challenges. Plenty of people also find job opportunities through networking with others. Attending professional conferences and seminars occasionally is a great idea. Gaining connections on LinkedIn and other professional sites is another good option.

Essential reminders for high quality care

Teamwork and leadership are critical for providing patients with a high level of care. Nurses need the support and mentorship of more experienced nurses to make the most of their time while practicing self-care in order to prevent burnout.

Technology such as smartphones, electronic patient recordkeeping systems, medical robots, smart beds and automation are all helpful because they allow nurses to take care of more patients per nurse without sacrificing the patient’s quality of care. Automated and constant monitoring of vital signs is actually better than just checking every so many hours, and it makes time for other tasks.

Nursing leaders are needed to take medical care into the future. Now is a great time to advance your career if you are a licensed RN with some experience working in a team environment.

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