Some call them angels, but nurses at Froedtert Hospital don't rely on divine intervention: they create miracles every day with skill, compassion, tireless energy and perseverance. Because nurses are truly on the "front lines," they see it all. They manage far more than blood pressures and supplies. With changing managed care and insurance reimbursement issues, they do it in a shorter amount of time–usually days rather than weeks.
On the Front Lines: Nursing in a New CenturyAt Froedtert, patient care runs the gamut from managing details of complex illnesses, to skillfully handling high-tech equipment in life and death crises to resolving patient/family issues. For nurses in this fast-paced healthcare environment, the challenges are intense. But patients can count on one thing: their care is priority number one–not only because the hospital expects it, but because Froedtert nurses can't perform any other way.
Focusing on the Patient
The philosophy of patient-centered care is a visible thread in all aspects of nursing at Froedtert. Certainly, it means the best of medical management. It also means that nurses treat patients as individuals, doing whatever is necessary to speed recovery, whether it is allowing a pet to visit or having family members stay on past visiting hours, if appropriate.
Another practice that ensures a high standard of care is "primary nursing," which promotes continuity and coordinated supervision of patient needs. Within 24 hours of admission, a nurse signs on as a patient's "primary nurse." Working with a physician, the nurse coordinates care for a 24-hour period, including therapy, physician visits, consultations with various specialties and laboratory tests, and results.
The primary nurse also makes sure each shift is well informed about the patient so needs can continue to be met. A unique scheduling system called 7/70 contributes to the ability to deliver personalized care.
The 7/70 system assures daily coverage. Each nurse works seven 10-hour days, followed by seven days off. For example, a patient admitted on Monday may have the same primary nurse for the next seven days. During that time, the nurse has a chance to get to know that patient's needs. Subtle changes in condition are assessed and acted upon promptly.
Offering personalized care is no easy task at a hospital that treats not only routine, but extremely complex cases. As part of an academic medical center, challenging cases flow in a continuous stream into the nursing arena. Our nurses experience cutting-edge technologies and new medical interventions and they master unique ways of managing patient needs.
Clinical staff work in a very intense environment. Particularly within the ICUs, keeping up on all the latest technology is a challenge. For instance, we frequently use a continuous dialysis machine that keeps a patient's blood and other fluids in balance until vital systems stabilize. There's also a new intra-aortic balloon pump for the heart. All nurses have to know how to use this vital equipment. And there's always something new coming.
Nursing today is fast-paced and physically demanding because of the acuity and rapid turnover of patients. For example, 3SW is a specialized surgical unit where we care for a wide variety of patients: lung, gastric bypass, liver, and pancreas cancer patients–many of whom have very serious diagnoses. This is a lot for a nurse to know and a lot of different reactions from patients to cope with.
These same challenges make nursing exciting. Froedtert provides multiple opportunities for nurses to learn, stay engaged and even create innovations within their practice. For many nurses, the challenge is part of the attraction.