A nurse's role in ensuring quality patient care
As a current or aspiring nurse, you likely are extremely passionate about providing your patients with the best possible care. However, in large health care organizations or other high-stakes, fast-paced medical settings, how do you and your colleagues ensure that the quality of the care provided is always up to par?
As health care moves toward value-based care across the board, nurses play a critical role in ensuring the quality and safety of patient care.
Quality in health care
For many years, insurers paid health care organizations and providers for individual services. A surgeon would be paid for a surgery: a physical therapist would be paid for rehabilitation and so on. However, in recent years, many insurers have begun to pay across episodes of care, where a lump sum is agreed upon that covers every step of the procedure. If a complication arises or other additional expense occurs, it will affect the reimbursement to all parties involved. Consequently, this shift has begun to encourage health care organizations to ensure that every fact of health care is optimized to deliver the best possible care.
As the staff members who likely spend the most one-on-one time with your patients, you and your fellow nurses shoulder much of the responsibility when it comes to ensuring quality care on a daily basis.
“The role of professional nurses in quality improvement (QI) is twofold: to carry out interdisciplinary processes to meet organizational QI goals and to measure, improve, and control nursing-sensitive indicators (NSI) affecting patient outcomes specific to nursing practices,” Cynthia Barnard, MBA, MSJS, CPHQ, said in an interview with health care consulting service HCPro. “All levels of nurses, from the direct care bedside nurse to the chief nursing officer (CNO), play a part in promoting QI within the healthcare provider organization.”
No matter your job title, as a nurse, hospitals and other health care organizations will likely look to you to help ensure the quality of care provided to patients.
A career in quality care
While you’ll play an important role in ensuring the quality of health care organizations and public health in any role, there are certain positions that focus on this area more exclusively than others. As the pressure for providing value-based care grows, many hospitals and other health care organizations are creating jobs specifically in this area of expertise. These roles may include titles such as nursing quality coordinator, director of clinical quality or simply quality management RN. While the responsibilities of these positions vary, many either require or strongly prefer candidates who hold a master of science in nursing, or other higher degree.
While not all health care organizations will have entire roles dedicated entirely to this area, ensuring quality care is still a priority. However, in many of these organizations, a large number of those responsibilities will fall to the nurse manager, or a similar leadership role. While a master’s degree in nursing is not necessarily required, it is often preferred and will certainly give you a more competitive chance at earning a promotion.