Share-a-Shift helps nurses, leaders spend a day in each other’s worlds

Lindsey McGraw, MSN, RN, CEN, couldn’t wait to show Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming Ed.D., MSN, RN, NEA-B, FAAN, around the Emergency Department (ED), where she has worked for the past 12 years.

She had a special opportunity when Cuming shadowed her as part of Share-a-Shift, a program sponsored by the Professional Nurse Council (PNC).

“It was important for me to show him the flow of our department, point out some of the challenges we face and share the joys of why we love emergency nursing,” said McGraw.

Share-a-Shift is an opportunity for nurses to get to know system leaders and explore an area of the health system that draws their professional curiosity. In turn, leaders get a frontline view of the many ways nurses bring expertise and value to patient care.

“Lindsey is a phenomenal, expert nurse with a great attitude, and sharing the shift with her helped me appreciate the incredible care challenges our ED staff face on a daily basis,” said Cuming, who is no stranger to busy nursing practice, having served in clinical roles for the first two decades of his nursing career.

During quieter moments on the shift, the pair had a good opportunity to discuss the delivery of high-quality care, meeting community needs and issues important to clinical nurses.

“Ric is very approachable. He is very pro-bedside nurse and wants to keep expert nurses at the bedside,” said McGraw. “His leadership is transformational.”

Share-a-Shift is a fantastic way to live in each other’s worlds, to appreciate and experience what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes, she said.

“Ric earned his honorary ED nurse wings that day, for sure. He was good!”

An eye-opening look behind the scenes

As a geriatric-certified nurse on the Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) Unit at Christiana Hospital, Priscilla James, RN-BC, knows it is essential for patients to be cared for by nurses skilled to meet their specific needs. The highly specialized ACE unit is for older adults who present with complex medical needs and often exhibit signs of dementia or need extra fall precautions.
Curious to understand how patient bed assignments are decided for busy units, she applied for Share-a-Shift with the Patient Access and Flow team, better known as the nursing coordinators and bed board.

“Share-a-Shift allows us to experience the challenges and processes of our colleagues’ worlds and helps us truly serve together guided by our values of Excellence and Love. It’s an important way for us to connect.”

— Ric Cuming, Ed.D., MSN, RN, NEA-B, FAAN
Chief Nurse Executive

“If you want an answer, the best way to get it is to go to the source,” said James. She shared a shift with Operations Director Michelle Wheeler, BSN, MS, RN, CNML, and Nursing Coordinators Mary Podralski, MSN, RN, CCRN, and Susan Callahan, BSN, RN, NE-BC.

Best known for “juggling beds,” nursing coordinators manage staffing and patient placement. They round on every patient care unit on every shift at both hospitals to confirm that staffing levels meet patient needs. They coordinate with ancillary departments such as Radiology and Heart & Vascular Interventional Services. On off-shifts and weekends, nursing coordinators serve as the on-site administrator and are the first call for patient relations issues.

“Priscilla took the initiative to participate in Share-a-Shift because she wants to improve things on her floor,” said Wheeler. “The Share-a-Shift experience is an important way for Magnet-designated nurses to improve their own clinical practice and live the tenet of seeking new knowledge.”

James said the shared shift opened her eyes to the experiences of her colleagues in other roles.

“The nursing coordinators did not have one second when the phone wasn’t ringing,” she said. “They are a well-oiled system.”

Now, thanks to the shift she shared with the Patient Access and Flow team, whenever the call comes for a nurse to help another unit with staffing, James appreciates the reason behind the request and said she is first to volunteer.

“We can’t think ‘unit by unit’ — in the end, it’s everybody working together,” said James. “This experience with the nursing coordinators really changed my mentality — and my practice.”

Getting the big picture

Chief People Officer Neil Jasani, M.D., MBA, FACEP, said Share-a-Shift provides “relevance and context. It allows a real appreciation of how every single area is vital to bringing value to those we serve.”

For Tara Victoria, BSN, RN II, one of the most rewarding aspects of caring for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is watching new families get to leave the hospital.

She signed up for Share-a-Shift with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) to gain a broader picture of the continuity of care Christiana Care provides in supporting moms and babies at home.

“We see them grow, but we don’t know what happens with their lives once they leave the NICU,” she said.

Lynn C. Jones, FACHE

After meeting with Lynn Jones, FACHE, VNA president, Ann Marie Baker, MSN, RN-BC, clinical director, and members of the maternal/child leadership team, she was impressed by the variety of services provided in the home, the autonomy of VNA nurses’ decision-making in the field and the technological advances VNA uses to support patients in the home.

“Share-a-Shift enlightened me,” she said. “It showed me the continuum of care, which is really important.”

Victoria said the shared shift experience will enhance her own practice back in the NICU. She learned what she can do as a NICU nurse to encourage moms on her unit to accept home visits and make good choices for their babies once they get home.

Share-a-Shift offers nurses that “awe-inspiring feeling of ‘wow’” when they have the opportunity to see first-hand the many ways Christiana Care touches our community, said Baker.

“Whether at home or in the hospital, in triage or in the NICU, we are all very connected,” she said. “Seeing the professionalism across so many different areas of nursing — and beyond nursing — through Share-a-Shift demonstrates again and again that we serve together.”

Christiana Care nurses will have the opportunity to enter the 2018 Share-a-Shift drawing during Nurses Week in early May.