Improving Healthy Work Environments Through Specialty Nursing Professional Development

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Journal of Radiology Nursing


A healthy work environment (HWE) is an interrelated system of people, structures, and practices enabling nurses to engage in work processes and relationships identified by clinical nurses as standards of quality care to patients in hospitals. In HWEs, nurses can make a maximum positive contribution to their patients and the organization. According to AACN, the six standards of an HWE include skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision-making, appropriate staffing, meaningful recognition, and authentic leadership. HWEs have been correlated with employee engagement and organizational commitment. Much of HWE literature findings are based on designs that assess the presence or absence of HWE and the outcomes of HWE. Few studies evaluate the impact of professional development interventions on HWE. The authors aimed to investigate the effect of an acute care professional development intervention for three nursing units on staff nurse perception of HWE. Study aim: This study aimed to administer a pre- and post-intervention assessment of the work environment among staff nurses working on acute care units in a Magnet® hospital in southeastern Louisiana. Methods: This study used a pre-test and post-test single group study quantitative design where subjects completed online assessments before and after an educational intervention. The intervention included an educational presentation tailored for each hospital unit's nursing specialty and patient population. Education topics reinforced the HWE standards and TeamSTEPPS® communication techniques to enhance teamwork. The online assessments included demographic questions and a valid and reliable AACN HWE survey. The HWE survey consists of 18 questions, 3 for each standard. The sample included staff nurses working in three acute care units. Demographic questions included gender, age, education, certification, participation in shared governance, career ladder participation, years in the current unit, hours worked per week, and years in nursing. Following the baseline assessment collection, an educational intervention was developed and delivered to the staff nurses. The intervention ranged from 4 to 8 hrs. It included specialty-focused education topics based on each unit's patient populations (e.g., cardiac, pulmonary/sepsis, and stroke/renal care). The participants received information on certification, TeamSTEPPS® techniques for feedback, and conflict management. Following the intervention, electronic HWE surveys were sent to participants via e-mail for reassessment. Both the pre- and post-test participation was voluntary. No identifying information was collected, and the study was Institutional Review Board approved. Results: A total of 53 staff nurses (50 females; 3 males) working among three acute care inpatient units completed the pre/post-test and intervention. The results were analyzed using SPSS. There was a significant increase in the means for 9 of 18 HWE survey questions from the pre- to post-test (P < .05). These results demonstrated a positive impact of the professional development intervention on staff nurse perception of HWE. Conclusions: Improving nurse work environments results in improved nurse empowerment, nurse satisfaction, and increased patient safety [DiChiara, J. (2015);]. This study demonstrated the benefit of a professional development that supported HWE standards on staff nurse perception of HWE in acute care work environments. This intervention study could serve as a strategy for units aiming to improve nurse perception of HWEs.

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