Two-Way Communication: Bedside Nurses Thinking Big & Making it Happen

Elizabeth ScalaBy Elizabeth Scala

A common challenge for healthcare professionals is keeping clear and effective communication. When you have various levels of people working in many different roles the lines can become crossed.

Thinking about a hospital system, you have upper leadership, those people on the boards, councils and executive levels. You have a level of directors, followed by middle management and then you have bedside staff. Each institution is slightly unique and roles are highly specialized.

One common complaint I hear often from nursing staff is the communication channels seem to be skewed at times, with most of the information coming from the top-down.

When this occurs there is a breakdown in trust. Relationships become heavy and people don’t feel empowered, valued or respected. If you’ve tried to communicate up the chain of command, but rarely see much in the way of results what typically happens? You stop trying.

Instead of communication you get talk amongst the trenches, which can be wrongly stereo-typed as complaints or whining.

None of this builds collaborative relationships; in fact these behaviors are harmful to our patients.

So what can we do?

Well, as we have in every situation, we have options. We can choose to keep trying; we can give up; or we can take another route altogether.

In the past, I myself have opted for option three.

With my recent creation and discovery of my signature work related to Nursing from Within, I talk about how change must come from the individual level. Yes, there are systems changes, group dynamics and organizational shifts that need to occur but sometimes (unfortunately) these things are out of hands and beyond our scope of nursing practice.

When you perceive you cannot impact a change, it can leave you feeling powerless, out of control and as if your voice doesn’t matter. In laymen’s terms: it stinks.

Driving home work yesterday, I was thinking about my upcoming program- the Art of Nursing.

[hana-code-insert name=’affiliate code banner’ /]  I’ve crafted this event in two ways so that there are options for participation. An individual nurse/nursing student may register and participate. OR an organization can invest in the program, gifting it to their staff members as a celebration of Nurse’s Week.

In spite of all of my visioning, enthusiasm, networking and planning, organizations seem to be standoffish at this idea. Responses like, ‘How will I know that I get my return on investment?’ or ‘Our staff is too busy to participate in something like that’ are common objections.

Since I believe in my work, have a strong desire to reach as many nurses as I can and never give up (maybe to my own exhaustion, LOL) I’ve had a brainstorm of a new way.

A nursing evolution. Participation from the bottom-up. Empower nursing at the bedside and give us a voice for change, connection and purpose.

I did some simple math calculations, taking the organizational price tag and dividing by it the individual ticket and realized- if you have a group of just 23.333333 nurses- it would make sense for you to join us via the organizational channels!

nurse patient careSo you, bedside nurse, out there reading this. Do you know 23 other nurses that want to join you in the Art of Nursing program? Could you be that nursing pioneer in your group? Do you have the spirit of leadership inside of you?

It’s time for some creative, outside-the-box thinking. You CAN do this.

Your unit, your nurse’s organization, your colleagues from class, and/or your Magnet team. These are just some ideas of places you might want to gather 24 of you together.

Think of it this way- the more you gather, the less expensive each individual ticket will be.

The organizational price stays the same, no matter how many nurses you bring together. Wouldn’t you love to organize this for the nurses you know and love?

A final word of collaborative creativity: once you come up with your group and [hana-code-insert name=’AON affiliate’ /]to set this up, then it’s time to go to your nursing leadership and say: “Hey, look what we did. As a team. We got ourselves this program and we’re really excited about it. Can you let us use a space to celebrate together this week?

It is an idea…

Isn’t this is what we’ve got to do in today’s healthcare environment?  

Be creative. Be Collaborative.  Think big. Do something different. Be a leader and have a vision.  


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8 Responses to Two-Way Communication: Bedside Nurses Thinking Big & Making it Happen

  1. Pingback: The New Nurse's Guide to Paging a Doctor at Night - The Nerdy Nurse

  2. SK Puri says:

    This is really great.Empower the bedside nurses. Let there be
    bottoms up communication and collaborative co-creation. This is a win-win for both management and staff.This has intangible ROI.Let all hospitals do these seminars during nurses week. The attrition rates will come down, staff will be happier ,less stress and more engaged.

    • Beth Boynton says:

      Exactly, SK! The ROI is intangible and yet potentially huge. We have take a leap of faith for ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas like this that offer hope and promise to revitalize the workforce! The rippling effect for positive cultures and patient experience and nurse morale will be wonderful. Thanks for your comments and sharing!

  3. Its so inspiring to hear that I am not deluded and alone fighting middle management for the patient experience rather than the tick box audit. I will certainly try however I too have met your barriers of ‘they havent the time’ etc. I was lead for NHS Change Day for East Mids and struggled massively to engage some of the ‘middle management’ and it is so frustrating to be told from the top dogs ‘oooh yes you must do this’ then from the ‘middle martians/managers’ told ‘you have absolutely zero hope of having your opinions considered’ to the grassroots staff shouting ‘yes we want that too but arent willing to rock the boat sorry’
    So frustrating

  4. Anonymous says:

    Great idea. Successful organizations are the ones who encourage creativity among its staff. This is when there is synergy, and that results in better outcomes especially for the patients.

  5. Beth Boynton says:

    Excellent idea, Elizabeth! Nurses can empower themselves and each other and demonstrate leadership. And maybe organizational leaders will offer space, food, even subsidize financially. An if not, nurses are smart, VERY smart people and I’m sure can come up with alternative ideas…take turns hosting and cooking? Once they buy the package they’ll have access forever right? So a once a week party? Who knows what they’ll come up with?

    …Btw, I think ROI for facilities will be immeasurable in terms of improved teamwork, morale, and patient experience and being “too busy” is exactly why leaders might want to help staff make the time.

    It is ironic that most would agree that we need creative and out-of-the-box ideas, but when it comes down to spending money need proof. An unfortunate paradox in times of budget restraints!

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