Councils Give Nurses a Forum to Discuss Patient Care

Nursing Practice Council_RS
Photo by David Christopher

Nursing Practice Council members Lynn Nitz, RN, past chair, with current chairs Margaret Gleason, RN, OCN, and Keriann Kordas, RN, OCN.

By Kadesha Thomas

For the past five years, the Nursing Practice Council has been a voice for staff nurses in Mitchell Hospital and Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. Members of the Nursing Practice Council include staff nurses, educators, advanced practice nurses and nursing leadership. These nurses come together with the goal of improving the patient care experience.

“Without the Nursing Practice Council, it would be difficult for individual nurses to talk to the managers and directors and then to senior leadership,” said Lynn Nitz, RN, a neurology nurse on 4SE and past chair of the Nursing Practice Council. “There would be no collective voice to get to people who can make a change.”

Such a change happened last year when day-shift nurses expressed concern about adding blood draws to their normal patient care duties. After hearing similar concerns from nurses throughout the institution, Nitz and other staff nurses from Mitchell 4 spent months tracking the trends in blood draws on six units. The data convinced senior leaders that hiring a daytime phlebotomist would streamline the process.

Within the Medical Center, there are 15 Local Practice Councils (LPCs) with about 60 staff nurses serving as members. Each LPC meets monthly to discuss practice issues that impact their care area. Every other month, all LPC chairs meet as the overarching Nursing Practice Council, now headed by Margaret Gleason, RN, OCN, central clinical educator, and Keriann Kordas, RN, OCN, an oncology nurse on 6NW, to discuss more global issues surrounding patient care. Every week, Gleason, Kordas and Nitz develop strategies addressing issues from the LPCs.

Successful initiatives by LPCs have included developing admission packets for oncology patients and hosting a meet-and-greet session for nurses and new neurology residents. “This was a great way to improve relationships between the nurses and the new physicians, and they got to see our faces outside of the unit,” Nitz said. The nurses also put together a packet for the new residents, titled “Things You Need to Survive on Mitchell 4.”

Establishing the Nursing Practice Council as a voice for Medical Center nurses has gained momentum with each success. “It has become very recognized among the staff nurses and senior leadership,” Gleason said. “The goal is to develop an LPC for each unit in the Medical Center.”

“I have fellow nurses coming up to me all the time with concerns they want to discuss,” Kordas said. “They know that if they go to the LPC, something will be done.”