The “secret weapons in our war against cancer” is how Barbara Summers, Ph.D., R.N., vice president and chief nursing officer, describes the 2,900 nurses at M. D. Anderson.
Summers, who received nursing’s highest honor with induction into the American Academy of Nursing in 2009, says M. D. Anderson nurses boast a heavy armament of skill, critical thinking, advocacy, collaboration, open communication, a sense of constancy during difficult times and love of innovation.
Nurses on inpatient floors took bold, homegrown ideas forward this past year, implementing plans that not only eased patients’ stays but also their transitions back home.
Here is a sampling of three innovations.
On G10, a floor that cares chiefly for gynecologic patients, nurses began conducting multidisciplinary discharge consultations at the patient’s bedside almost at admission. This ensures that when the patient leaves the hospital, plans are in place for proper care, support and accommodations. As a result, return trips to the hospital or Emergency Center are markedly down, and discharges are more streamlined.
On P10, advanced melanoma patients who receive a promising vaccine therapy are now treated on the floor where they are most comfortable, rather than in the Intensive Care Unit. Nurses on the melanoma inpatient unit — who want to care for the patients they know best and who know them — developed advanced education and a specialized sub-unit care program. They trained a nursing team to administer the complex therapy and monitor patient responses for side effects.
Like their colleagues on P10, nurses on P8 wanted to provide full-spectrum care for patients they see most often: those who have had brain surgery. The new NeuroProgressive Care Unit allows patients with straightforward surgeries to go from surgery directly to a post-anesthesia care unit and then to a private room on P8, where specially trained advanced-skilled nurses provide care.
The P10 and P8 programs opened much-needed ICU beds, while bringing expert nursing to a familiar care environment.
“We established a new department in the Division of Nursing to encourage nurse-led research that leads to innovation like these projects, provide infrastructure, and support nursing research and new educational opportunities,” Summers says.