March 5, 2014

Academy Helps Nurses Hone Leadership Skills

Nurse Manager Laurie Pustinger, BSN, RN, recently augmented her huddles with staff on the surgery/endoscopy unit at South Pointe Hospital. She added visuals related to a performance improvement initiative.


Nurse Manager Laurie Pustinger, BSN, RN, recently augmented her huddles with staff on the surgery/endoscopy unit at South Pointe Hospital. She added visuals related to a performance improvement initiative. In June, nurses began educating patients staying in the hospital the day before surgery on topics such as preventing deep vein thrombosis. Pustinger created a pie chart, shown during huddles, that depicts the percentage of patients who received pre-surgery education. “I want to engage my employees so they come to work and make a difference,” she says.


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Using visuals is one of several ideas Pustinger picked up at a Nurse Leadership Academy in June. Cleveland Clinic’s Zielony Nursing Institute holds the four-day program quarterly. It covers a variety of topics, including leadership, finance, human resources, quality and safety, the patient experience and nursing informatics. “It’s for any nurses who want to focus on their leadership competencies and the understanding of our organization and their leadership role within it,” says Jennifer Van Dyk, MSN, BA, RN, Director of Nursing Education for the Zielony Institute.

Van Dyk developed programming for the Nurse Leadership Academy, which was revamped in February. Originally launched in 2008, the training utilized licensed content from the American Organization of Nursing Executives. Attendees met once a week for several months. While the program was well received, the Zielony Institute sought to improve upon it.

“We have a lot of resources at Cleveland Clinic,” says Van Dyk. “We tapped into our expert pool to come up with programming that truly resonates with our nurses.” Curriculum for the homegrown Nurse Leadership Academy was created using input from nurse manager and CNO focus groups, nursing literature and former attendees. Each academy attracts approximately 15 attendees.


The Nurse Leadership Academy does not replace the monthly new nurse manager orientation, also offered by the Cleveland Clinic health system. That one-day orientation provides new managers specific, competency-based training for their day-to-day tasks. “Nurse manager orientation provides what you need to know to get you through the day,” says Van Dyk. “The Nurse Leadership Academy explains the reasons why—the subtle competencies that will take you from a good manager to a great leader.”

The academy attracts unit-level nurse managers, assistant nurse managers, clinical nurse specialists and nursing operations managers from Cleveland Clinic’s main campus and eight community hospitals. One of the biggest benefits is the opportunity to network. “It builds a support structure for nurse managers so they have resources outside of their bubble,” says Van Dyk.

Attendees praise the program. “There is a huge emphasis at Cleveland Clinic on developing leadership,” says Pustinger. “The Nurse Leadership Academy was all about giving me what I need to succeed. It gave me four days to just fill up my cup.”


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