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Dome - Visualizing exemplary practice

May 2011

Visualizing exemplary practice

Date: May 20, 2011

Suburban Hospital nurses develop a symbolic model for care.


nurses graphic

Registered nurse Maria Chamberlain brings an unusual perspective to the diabetes education classes she teaches at Suburban Hospital. As she instructs patients about regulating their glucose levels, she also offers practical advice gleaned from 30 years of personal experience as a diabetes patient herself.

When Chamberlain was admitted last year to the hospital, she was grateful to receive the same thoughtful care that she gives to her own patients. “And it wasn’t because I work for the hospital,” she says. “Everyone is treated the same here.”

For Chamberlain, those are not only words to practice by, but worthy of formal recognition. Sharing her conviction are colleagues across the hospital who recently unveiled the department’s new “Nursing Practice Model,” which calls attention to the patient-centered values that drive the work of all Suburban nurses.

Placing a premium on six core concepts—putting patients first, education, respect, collaboration, compassion and a professional practice environment—the model, presented in the form of a diagram, is an affirmation of nurses’ commitment to their work. It also serves as a reminder to staff, patients and visitors that the nurses take their job very seriously. As a visual image, the model, with its six figures holding hands, six-point star and central heart, also conveys the warmth and comfort of a handmade quilt.

Before the model’s debut, Suburban nurses spent months in focus groups and meetings choosing the words or phrases that best described the essential elements of nursing practice, professional development and cooperation with peers. From 147 initial responses, members of Suburban’s Professional Practice Council chose six central concepts  to appear within the nursing practice logo and be displayed throughout the hospital. “Any nurse in any specialty, no matter where in the hospital they are practicing, can relate the practice model to his or her work,” says Suburban nurse LeighAnn Sidone, director of professional practice and nursing quality.

In January, the circular insignia containing the model’s guiding principles was introduced during a festive week of educational activities that included the screening of a video featuring Chamberlain’s story along with those of other nursing staff members. To better absorb the significance of each of the principles highlighted in the model, nursing staff also answered questions while playing “Healthcare Jenga” (a takeoff on the popular wooden block game), and roulette on a “Patient First Wheel.”

Upon completion of the program, nurses were eligible to earn a pin depicting the new model by answering a series of questions about the six principles and role they play in their practice. Suburban’s new nursing practice model is not only posted throughout the hospital but also adorns uniforms and scrubs, a reminder of what nursing at Suburban Hospital is all about.

Debra Scheinberg

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