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Five Highlights from the Meeting of the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) Institute

By IHI Open School | Thursday, June 4, 2015


Nursing professors unite! Last week, the IHI Open School was at the QSEN conference with this stylish professor of nursing, Marrudda Williams of Cypress College in California.

Last week, the IHI Open School was lucky enough to attend the annual gathering of a group of nurse educators who are pioneering the teaching of quality and safety skills in nursing curricula across the country.

The group, known as the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses Institute (QSEN), was celebrating its 10th birthday. It was amazing to be with so many brilliant, courageous leaders of their field in beautiful downtown San Diego, where the overcast “June gloom” wasn’t enough to tamper the spirits of the QSEN crowd. (The barking sea lions and a seagull feasting on our leftover breakfast reminded me that, despite the chilly weather, I really had flown coast-to-coast.) Here are five highlights from our three days.

  1. At a session on interprofessional teamwork, Gwen Sherwood, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Associate Dean at the University of Chapel Hill, shared a fun activity. She told us to thumb wrestle with our neighbor, and for each pair to get as many wins as possible in 15 seconds. What would you do? Well, my partner and I did the usual thing we tried to pin each other’s thumb down. But then Gwen told us the trick. Don’t compete — cooperate! (If you take turns winning, you’ll rack up the number of wins as fast as your thumbs are able.) Try this exercise out the next time you need an icebreaker that offers a lesson on teamwork. 
  2. Jane Barnsteiner, PhD, FAAN, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said the biggest change in health care is the power shift of patient-centeredness. “More and more the people we work with are not horizontal, they’re vertical,” she said. “And they don’t see themselves as patients. So we’re recognizing them as the source of control.” When will we recognize that we should ask our patients their goals, and then measure our performance on that? So the goal for a hip replacement is no longer a surgery without complications and a discharge without complications, but getting Mary Kate back on the golf course. She recommended Angelina Jolie Pitt’s op-ed on her mastectomy for more insight on this view.
  3. Maybe you’ve heard of critical language and SBAR — Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (for more, check out PS 103: Teamwork and Communication). Here’s another trick for communicating safely that I hadn’t heard before, from Professor Gerry Altmiller of the College of New Jersey: CUS! You can use these phrases when you see a safety risk and want to speak up with escalating alarm: “I’m Concerned,” “I’m Uncomfortable, “This isn’t Safe.”
  4. Don’t miss JAMA’s recent issue about professionalism and governance, in which many leaders in medicine say that professional self-regulation is not enough to meet patients’ demands. Joanne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor at the University of Minnesota, called it a “wake-up call” for all health care professionals. “Consumers want more oversight,” she said.
  5. Linda Cronenwett, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor at the University of Chapel Hill, reflected on the last 10 years of QSEN, framing her retrospective with a beautiful poem, “The Seven of Pentacles” by Marge Piercy. The poem describes the thoughtful work of cultivating a garden, which Cronenwett compared to the gradual growth of the quality and safety education movement: It takes careful tending, faith in the invisible progress, and finally, after a long period of uncertainty, the celebration of the harvest a beautiful metaphor for cultivating social change.

Thanks again to the folks at QSEN, and stay classy, San Diego!

--Stephanie Garry Garfunkel, IHI Open School Managing Editor

San Diego

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