To Optimize Patient Care, Advance the Practice of Nursing
Cynthia Fox, BSN, RN, is shown here teaching a group of second-semester juniors from the nursing school for their clinical rotation in adult health.
Nursing excellence is vital - for patients, of course, and for nurses. It is with this guiding principle that a new partnership has grown from the shared mission of the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) and
The partnership, called University of Maryland Nursing, has been created with a vision to optimize patient outcomes by enhancing nursing practice.
Here are some ways it will benefit nurses at the hospital and faculty and students in the school:
“Nurses want to grow professionally and develop in their career and education, and we want to help them to do that seamlessly,” says Lisa Rowen, DNSc, RN, vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer for UMMC.
“They can diversify their jobs and education, all within this medical center and our world-class nursing school,” Rowen says. “We have a fabulous nursing school right across the street. I know, because I’m an alumna of that school.”
“Most schools of nursing
have partnerships with their affiliated medical centers,” says Allan.
“Most schools of nursing have partnerships with their affiliated medical centers, but this new initiative is different,” says Janet D. Allan, PhD, RN, CS, FAAN, dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.
“University of Maryland Nursing is at another level, and of a greater magnitude. It really addresses our joint mission and our vision for optimizing patient outcomes.”
“The school is really delighted that Lisa Rowen, although she has been the CNO at UMMC for a very short time, has already brought her exciting vision not just to nursing at the Medical Center, but also to the School of Nursing through this partnership,” says Allan.
Rowen says the idea for a stronger partnership grew from the first conversation she had with Allan earlier this spring, during Rowen’s interview before she was even hired as the chief nursing officer. Allan was asked to participate in the search process for a new CNO, and their earliest conversation naturally turned to partnership. With both of them so passionate about the need, the time was right to make it happen.
Rowen is excited about the opportunities for growth that the partnership will provide for nurses at UMMC.
“With University of Maryland Nursing, a nurse can have one foot in the Medical Center and the other foot in the School of Nursing, and not have to leave our campus in order to continue to develop in our profession,” Rowen says.While many nurses at UMMC have done this in the past, she says, there has not been a formal structure to support and encourage them.
“This is something very new, and a very different way of life,” Rowen says. “We’ve never had a program like this that is jointly promoted and supported by both the Medical Center and the School of Nursing.
“Nursing is a demanding career, and we want people to have opportunities to pursue whatever appeals to them, at different stages in their lives,” Rowen says.
“Before, many nurses managed to find ways to integrate clinical practice, education, research or consulting,” Rowen says. “But what we are doing now is making these opportunities available to all nurses, and encouraging them in a way that will create a culture that advances nursing practice.”
For example, staff nurses who have an idea for research can be paired with a faculty member at the School of Nursing who has research expertise. In the past, not all nurses may have had a place to take an idea to study and analyze.
UMMC nurses will have more opportunity for pursuing a bachelor’s or advanced degree, although they will still have to apply and be accepted at the SON on their own merits. Once accepted, however, the nurses qualify for a tuition benefit of up to $10,000 a year for graduate-level tuition, and up to $6,000 for undergraduate- level tuition – twice the rate at which the Medical Center reimbursed tuition in the past. Also new this year: these tuition benefits will be paid up front, as a nurse registers for the courses, rather than by reimbursing nurses at the end of the year.
The new partnership includes a council of members from both UMMC and the SON and is organized into four main areas of nursing: clinical practice, education, research and consultation services to other health care professionals.
The collaborative efforts began with the Medical Center providing about 20 of its nurses by next semester to serve as clinical instructors for the SON while continuing their roles for the Medical Center. Each clinical instructor is responsible for a group of students for an entire clinical rotation.
For example, Cynthia Fox, BSN, RN, and Rita Herzog, MS, RN, CNRN, two nurses who are senior partners in the Medical Center’s Neurocare/Surgery unit, are team-teaching a group of second-semester juniors from the nursing school for their clinical rotation in adult health.
Herzog has extensive teaching experience, but for Fox, this opportunity has been her first position as an instructor. She has been at the Medical Center for 25 years. Having the chance to teach – while she is completing work for her own master’s degree at the School of Nursing – has made her work more exciting, she says.
“I enjoy the diversity of my roles,” Fox says. “I staff the unit and have senior partner duties, and I have students two days a week. It’s stimulating for me to be able to do all of the things I do.”
Allan says the increase in instructional staff through UMMC nurses who will be clinical instructors will enhance the education of the students, but may not be enough to increase the enrollment for the school or make a large dent in the nursing shortage.
In Maryland alone, the state is expected to be short 10,000 nurses unless aggressive action reverses the trend. Nursing schools in Maryland had to turn down or wait-list close to 2,000 qualified applicants in 2006 because of the shortage of faculty, Allan says. Nationwide, 40,000 qualified students could not enter nursing schools because of the shortage.
“The largest challenge in recruiting and retaining faculty has to do with resources – there aren’t enough nurses, and not enough money to pay faculty on par with what they could earn as practicing nurses,” Allan says.
“Most practicing nurses who would have the qualifications to teach can make at least $30,000 more than we would be able to pay them,” Allan says.
By opening the door to a Medical Center nurse to teach one class or clinical group at the SON without having to give up his or her job and salary, the partnership can help to address the faculty shortage. Ultimately, however, Allan says, a much bigger influx of money will be the only way to solve the problems behind the shortage of both nurses and faculty.