Nurses Shine During National Nurses Week and Beyond

Mary Erickson | May 10, 2013

This is the final blog post in a National Nurses Week series. This post focuses on the changes in healthcare and the significant role that nurses play in patient care – from getting supplies ready for procedures to EHR implementation. We encourage you to read the entire blog series.

During National Nurses Week, ONC has been celebrating the contributions of the nursing profession on healthcare. Everyone is aware that a nurse’s impact on healthcare and patient safety is massive, but how many people really understand why?

Is it our compassionate touch? Possibly.

The encouraging words we offer after a patient has heard life-changing news? Could be.

As nurses, we support the entire continuum of patient care

From my perspective, quite probably the most significant contribution that nurses like me make is the behind-the-scenes work we do to ensure patient care is delivered as smoothly as possible throughout the continuum of care. This includes:

  • Anticipating the next need during a procedure,
  • Ensuring necessary supplies are readily available, and
  • Planning in advance for patients’ ongoing needs so they are discharged from the hospital or clinic visit with everything they need for a successful outcome.

Nurses get it.

We work behind the scenes and are critical users of EHRs

What most patients never realize is what nurses are actually doing to support these efforts. We are:

  • Ordering supplies and medications for their clinic
  • Writing patient instructions
  • Preparing medications to be administered
  • Reviewing medical records to be sure their patients don’t miss an important preventative health screening, and
  • Answering questions about a diagnosis or medication.

Now, one of our most important jobs is documenting and tracking the all of the patient’s healthcare information in their electronic health record (EHR).

We play a key role in EHR implementation

The importance of nursing’s contribution to successful EHR implementation cannot be understated. Nationally, 80% of nurse practitioners like me are enrolled with Regional Extension Centers (REC) like the Mountain-Pacific Quality Health Foundation (MPQHF) in Montana and Wyoming are live with an EHR. Our active involvement from the beginning is critical to the overall success of building and utilizing the EHR. In most practices and hospitals, the nurse is the primary user of the EHR.  

I am in a nursing leadership position in the small hospital in Montana where I work — and therefore am responsible for our facility’s EHR implementation. I could not be more thankful for the group of nurses I work with.

I’m not going to kid you, not all of them were happy about this change and some nurses were downright scared. But we didn’t back away from the challenge. We stepped up, educated ourselves about the technology and now we help teach others so they don’t make the same mistakes we made.

We are experiencing a profound change and continuing to shine

As a profession, nurses are enhancing our communication with patients and other facilities and providers through EHR implementation in our facilities. We are providing a level of care that we have yet to fully understand.

Future generations of nurses will laugh at us someday, at how scared we were during this period of immense change. They will not understand the “big deal” about going electronic. To that generation of nurses, I say:

If you EVER have the opportunity to experience a change this historic in your career, may you persevere the way that we are and come through shining – just the way we are.

As National Nurses Week comes to a close, ONC would like to thank our nation’s nurses for everything they do for their patients – from providing comfort to patients to EHR implementation – especially in this time of innovation and transformation in healthcare.