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From the Bedside: Educating Nurses in the Still of the Night

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Kelly Hancock, DNP, RN, NE-BC Program Offers Professional Development to Night Shift Staff



Michele Drlik, BSN, BA, RN, has worked the night shift her entire 17-year nursing career. While she likes her schedule, there’s one disadvantage. “I always felt like I missed out on opportunities offered to the day shift when we received information related to lunch-and-learns and other educational programs,” says Drlik, assistant nurse manager on a women’s health medical/surgical unit at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus. “I thought it was a shame that there weren’t professional development programs available on the night shift.”

In 2014, Drlik set out to solve the issue. She created a program called Learn and Grow at Night to offer her peers educational sessions and continuing nursing education credit.

Creation of the program

Drlik developed Learn and Grow at Night while participating in the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program. Offered by Cleveland Clinic’s Office of Nursing Education and Professional Development, LEAD is a 10-week program for clinical nurses to develop leadership skills and improve delivery of relationship-based care. As part of the program, participants work on a quality or research project. Recognizing the gap in professional education for nurses working the night shift, Drlik chose night shift education for their LEAD project.

Drlik completed a literature review and developed an implementation plan for Learn and Grow at Night, receiving guidance from Joan M. Kavanagh, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, ACNO of the Office of Nursing Education and Professional Development, and Cynthia J. Willis, DNP, MBA, RN, CMSRN, Senior Director of Nursing Education.

Before launching the program, Drlik conducted a learning needs assessment for night shift staff. Nearly 130 nurses completed the online survey, with 76 percent indicating that they were interested in attending 30-minute educational programs during the night shift. Survey results also included broad topics the nurses were interested in learning about, including communication, professional issues, conflict resolution and the patient experience.

Education at night

Now, Drlik works hand in hand with the Office of Nursing Education and Professional Development to organize quarterly educational programs for all night shift staff. The 30-minute programs are held in a conference room on Cleveland Clinic’s main campus at 1 a.m., 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. on the same day to ensure that all interested nurses are able to attend. Participants receive nursing continuing education credit.

The first presentation, entitled “Dealing with Difficult Patients,” was held in the second quarter of 2015. Approximately 50 staff members attended. Since then, Learn and Grow at Night sessions have covered a variety of topics, including end-of-life care, promoting a culture of safety, handoff communication and compassion fatigue. Drlik says they typically get between 10 and 25 attendees at each half-hour program.

The response from nurses and nursing leaders has been positive. “The Learn and Grow at Night presentations provide professional development for nurses, but also benefit patients,” says Drlik. “I tell my staff that even if they get just one take-away point during the presentations, that’s one more thing they’ve learned that can help their patients receive better care.”


Tags: employee engagement, best practices, career, burnout
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