MSN Graduate Improves Quality, Decreases Turnover at New Mexico Hospital

A 99-bed acute care facility in Alamogordo, N.M., needed a transformation in order to meet criteria as outlined by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Nursing leadership needed to be recharged, so a new CNO came on board with a critical mission: raise expectations and increase accountability.

To do this, the CNO hired a new Master’s-prepared management team that included a new Director of Critical Care Services and Education, Kelly Ramey, RN, MSA, MSN, CCRN, CEN. A big part of Kelly’s job involved encouraging nurses to seek higher education and assist in the transformation.

But there was just one problem.

While Kelly had more than 13 years of experience in healthcare administration, she wanted more experience in nursing leadership and education. So she decided to go back for a second Master’s degree – this time, an online MSN degree in education.

Education Proves Satisfying, not Scary

“The biggest part of my job as a nurse educator is persuading nurses to see that education isn’t scary,” Kelly said. “In fact, I’ve seen proof that nurses who have earned advanced degrees can cite research or Joint Commission findings and really hold their own in meetings and with physicians.”

Naturally, there was some resistance to going back to school. But Kelly stayed true to her cause.

“Once Associate degree-level nurses start going back to school, they take their blinders off,” Kelly explained. “Advanced degree studies get nurses thinking about standards of practice – that it’s not hooey. They do their own research, read literature and see proof that there is validity to the new changes at our hospital.”

In fact, nurses have started nursing-journal clubs, and they’ve helped re-write policies based on standards they’ve studied. Many are now even driving some of the changes, especially toward total patient care.

Quality Improves, Turnover Decreases by 29%

“Our push for education has resulted in increased patient satisfaction, increased physician satisfaction, and significant improvement in our quality indicators,” Kelly said. Also, due in part to her efforts, nursing turnover has been reduced by 29 percent.

How the Educator Got Educated

Kelly highly encourages accredited online nursing degree programs with the staff.

“In my MSN program at American Sentinel University, I collaborated with students living all over the country, bringing their unique experiences to the online classroom. The discussions were incredibly rich and diverse, and the networking opportunities incredible.”

In fact, when the CNO said that a first-line leadership role wasn’t working out, Kelly was able to cite current literature and research, thanks to a paper she wrote on the changing dynamic in nursing leadership. Her research dovetailed right into how the CNO wanted to develop this role.

“I was able to bring my class research into every day practice,” Kelly said. “Online learning is real stuff, not fluff. The learning is constant, contemporary and applicable to practice.”

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