In 2025, there will be a predicted nationwide shortage of up to 260,000 nurses. Such a shortage would take a huge toll on the provision of healthcare for patients across the country. But with increasing competition to enter nursing programs at colleges and universities, why would there be fewer nurses? There are a number of reasons, but it often comes down to satisfaction in the workplace. When it comes to healthcare workers who are constantly interacting with patients, it is the responsibility of the facility to provide excellence in employee treatment and, in turn, excellence in patient care.
VA Long Beach is taking that extra step to make its nursing staff feel welcome and secure. We are participating in becoming designated by the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) 12-step Pathway to Excellence program dedicated to improving the working experience of nurses at medical facilities. Originally intended for small rural hospitals, it was quickly realized that any settings where nurses work could be applicable.
The kickoff celebration for the beginning of VA Long Beach's Pathway to Excellence journey was on March 1, and it was attended by a full house of nurses. There were also free massages being given in the room to provide extra comfort for our staff.
"You're going to see a big difference throughout the organization," said Christine Pabico, the Direct of ANCC's Pathway to Excellence and Pathway to Excellence in Long Term Care programs. "The most challenging part, which is the most rewarding, is the whole pathway itself. And it's the patients that benefit from that. They do come out with better patient care and safety.
The program includes the achievement of 12 major standards, centered on the creating an optimal nursing practice environment with regards to the quality of the treatment of healthcare workers and the commitment to excellent patient care. But it's not just about the nurses. It's about all employees. Together, we create the very framework that makes a healthcare facility a place for healing and care.
There are currently 77 facilities in the U.S. which are designated by Pathway to Excellence, including one VA in Virgina. VA Long Beach will be the second VA facility to be Pathway designated by the ANCC.
"We have come a long way in the past five years. This is another moment that speaks to how far we've come in really working as team members," VA Long Beach Director Ms. Isabel Duff said.
Not only does the Pathway to Excellence designation ensure a suitable work environment, but it also keeps the emotional and mental health of workers in mind. For Standard 9, "A balanced lifestyle is encouraged," it is imperative that healthcare organizations and facilities protect its workers from being overwhelmed by the stress that comes with working in a medical environment. Different stress outlets are always offered, from a simple walk through our patient garden to Planetree classes and the incoming 24hr gym on site.
As Pabico said, "Nurses don't work in a vacuum." This is a commitment to everyone involved in making the lives of our Veterans better, which includes every single VA employee!