A Practical Approach to Learning About Healthy Work Environment Standards Within Any Clinical Setting

Monday, 30 October 2017

Sandra L. Greeno, DNP, MSN, RN, NE-BC
School of Nursing, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA

Throughout nursing school, undergraduate nursing students are exposed to the role and responsibilities of the registered nurse (RN), administrative leadership concepts used within the clinical setting, and what are aspects of the work environment that will foster their professional nursing practice and development. Previous assignments, used only an assessment of organizational concept based learning activity (CBLA) that was discussed with students in weekly post conferences by clinical faculty. Since some form of standards were not used as a reference, the student used their own personal perspective and experiences which lead to variability within the student population. Additionally, using only an assessment without the structure of the SWOT analysis framework, the students were inclined to report observations versus a thorough analysis. Finally, the retention or use of this learning and understanding of the impact of the work environment on patient outcomes and staff satisfaction was shortly lived to the period of the course. Introducing the use of standards related to healthy work environment, using SWOT analysis as a vehicle of review and reporting, and linking this learning to the leadership role development as a soon to be RN significantly helped the student commitment to this learning activity and the short and long term impact on their own professional practice and future employment.

Through the use of CBLA organizational assessment of a real life clinical unit/area/agency compared to American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Healthy Work Environment (HWE) standards, and using the SWOT analysis framework allows the student to develop a thorough review. The activity is under the student’s control for the entire assessment, analysis, and strategy development. The students then creates a presentation using powerpoint or prezi as a vehicle to present the analysis of their learning from the clinical work environment, SWOT, congruence with the mission, vision, and values to the day to day staff interaction as well as the work life, and the strategies to improve the unit/area/agency operation.

The students have found this learning activity as both a practical and innovative method to compare a real world clinical setting to a professional nursing organization’s national standards of healthy work environment. This work yields short term learning about leadership concepts as they evaluate a real life clinical work environment. Additionally, long term this learning of how to analyze a clinical work environment becomes a major component of their strategy in selecting their new graduate nursing employment.

The students uniformly voiced that this course assignment was an excellent method to learn about leadership concepts, standards related to work environment, and how this information relates to their own leadership role as a new RN especially in their search for their first nursing employment opportunity.