In case you haven’t seen any of the signage or logos for the AONE conference this year, the overall theme is “Inspiring Leadership”. Obviously, as nurse leaders get together, there are certain business meetings and other such events that need to occur, and today had its fair share of them. But the overall theme of the conference permeates almost every workshop and plenary session.
I keep picking up a vibe that healthcare in general, and nurses specifically, are nervous about the overall direction of hospitals in America. When it comes down to it for nurses, healthcare is a mission. It’s a calling to sacrifice yourself and help people. That mission has organically consolidated itself over the past century into hospitals, for the most part, and nurses are nervous about all the changes to healthcare in this country–the immediate revolution coming from ACA–and how those changes will potentially impact the future of the hospitals and their ability to be financially viable. The temptation for nurse leaders is to put their heads down and focus on their mission of providing care, regardless of the circumstances. The result is a tremor of nervousness or tension that struggles to find an outlet or resolution.
The sessions that I went today and heard about from my colleagues could all be categorized as “Inspiring.” It seems there are two kinds of inspiration at play. The first kind is inspiring nurse leaders to improve the care delivery model and how they operate as nurses in hospitals. Using the time honored evidence-based approach as a platform for change, I heard sessions today inspire leaders to create cross-functional teams to focus on patient needs and to leverage technology in the form of business intelligence systems to drive behavior improvements in a hospital. (The latter session got me especially excited, probably since I grew out of Health IT and know firsthand the challenges, benefits, and future potential of hospital data!)
The other kind of “Inspiring” that is happening in sessions is for nurse leaders as they engage in the hospital leadership around the future of healthcare. I heard about a session today that discussed something as simple as hospital websites and how nursing and nurse leaders are not represented. Even some of my sessions yesterday were focused on inspiring nurse leaders to engage and not retreat into a nursing care-only focus. I almost get the impression that CNO’s have let themselves become marginalized over time, in comparison to their C-level peers, and need to be encouraged to step into the arena to shape the direction of the hospitals in these uncertain times.
As this conversation plays out at AONE this week, I know that I am coming out of every session full of optimism and brimming with new ideas about how nurses, hospitals, and healthcare will be better than they ever have been and how I personally can be a part of making that happen. I guess I’m being inspired!
Friday wrapped up with Olympia Snow, former Republican senator from Maine, make her way through a discussion on the gridlock in our political processes. Her firsthand perspective on how the ACA legislations made its way through the process was enlightening and her observations about the partisan polarization of our country were fascinating. She also strove to inspire everyone to affect change in order to break us out of the political inaction that we are stuck in. I wholeheartedly agree, as we need redirect future of healthcare to be full of optimism instead of nervousness.