Best Practice: Unit Nurse Leaders Drive Quality.
Julie Villa, MSN, RN, CCRN-K & Darla Harmer, MSN, RN, Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, NJ. Julie Villa is Director of Nursing Excellence & Innovation and Magnet Program Director. Darla Harmer is Administrative Director of Medical-Surgical Units.
In an effort to improve the quality of care on the units within the med/surg division at our organization, the role of Unit Nurse Leader (UNL) was implemented: a baccalaureate-prepared registered nurse whose job responsibilities were different from that of a nurse manager, assistant nurse manager, or a clinical educator.
The role of the UNL is a quality-focused position on a specific unit and is intensely involved in all quality issues regarding nurse-sensitive indicators and patient satisfaction. UNLs make daily rounds on all patients on the unit and provides a conduit between the patient and management to ensure all needs and requests are communicated. This ongoing rapport with the unit’s patients proves to be a powerful tool when performing post-discharge patient callbacks to ensure we met the patient’s expectations. The UNL can contribute to morale within the unit by attending, and facilitating, if necessary, the unit-based Professional Practice Council and the units’ staff meeting as they are well-versed in the issues within a unit, support the organization’s strategic plan, and are not afraid to voice concerns of those who may not share the organization’s same priorities. UNLs collaborate very closely with the nurse manager of the unit to ensure that comprehensive communication of the unit’s operations is always current.
This role has proved to be a game changer on many of our units and has placed a historically low-functioning med/surg unit to nowadays excel to the 90th percentile, according to our patient satisfaction data.