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How can I recognize my nurses’ efforts in quality improvement?

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One of the easiest ways to engage staff members in quality improvement (QI) is positive reinforcement through reward and recognition of their efforts. Nurses can be recognized at the unit level by their colleagues, or at the divisional, departmental, or institutional level. Examples of ways to recognize and reward nurses include the following:

  • Publicize all QI projects on the unit or in the department through newsletters, the intranet, or other hospital publications. Even utilize local media outlets to publicize nurses and their projects.
  • Set aside a day to recognize nurses who have made a difference through QI projects. Utilize poster displays of the projects and post them in the lobby for all to see.
  • Publish the QI project and the outcomes.
  • Utilize a friendly competition between units to improve NSIs.
  • Utilize divisional or departmental rewards for units with the most improved data.

Here are some examples of instances where staff members are recognized and rewarded for their efforts:
The department of nursing at an academic medical center has a "Nursing Recognition Day" every spring in the hospital lobby with high patient, family, and visitor exposure. During this event nurses set up posters of their QI projects and the outcomes achieved. The posters remain on display in the lobby and on the intranet. In addition, First, Second, and Third Place and "Best in Show" awards are given to the winning posters, along with a $100 certificate to the winners to put toward an educational event. Each year the number of posters representing a unit-based staff nurse QI projects increases.

The NICU at a large academic hospital recently celebrated 365 days without a central line-associated bloodstream infection. Nursing leadership surprised the NICU nurses with a large cake for the unit and a poster placed in the main lobby of the hospital with the NICU nurses' pictures and their accomplishment. A local news reporter who happened to be at the hospital that day requested the opportunity to put a copy of the poster and the achievement in the local newspaper for the entire community to see.

- Cynthia Barnard, MBA, MSJS, CPHQ, and Barbara J. Hannon, RN, MSN, CPHQ

(April 2012)