Valley View Nurses Receive Pathway to Excellence Designation

As Valley View recruits more nursing staff to meet the growing demand for healthcare services in the region, they can now count the Pathway to Excellence designation for nursing as one of the many benefits to working for a non-profit community hospital in a mountain town.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Pathway to Excellence program recognizes a health care organization’s commitment to creating a positive practice environment that empowers and engages staff. The program represents six standards of a professional and positive practice environment: shared decision-making, leadership, safety, quality, well-being and professional practice. By investing in the optimum workplace for nurses, organizations demonstrate a culture of sustained excellence, resulting in the successful recruitment of top candidates and staff retention through high job satisfaction.

Earning the Pathway to Excellence designation was a two-year endeavor for the nursing staff at Valley View. The application was over 1,200 pages long and included over 50 writers, including direct care nurses, nurse leadership and interdisciplinary partners from across Valley View. The final stage in the designation process was a survey of all Valley View nurses to validate that Valley View is living the Pathway standards and earning the designation. In total, 87 percent of Valley View nurse completed the survey, and exceeded all benchmarks.

“The application really pulled together things we were doing already, but weren’t necessarily receiving acknowledgement for,” says Kate Hugo, Pathway to Excellence program coordinator and a nurse in Valley View’s Surgical Services department. “We just needed to talk about what we were doing more purposefully. A great example is a nurse working in our day surgery unit. She helped implement a screening tool for sleep apnea for pre-surgical patients, and she worked with a group of employees from around the organization to get those results sent directly to a patients’ primary care physician.”

Shana Light, a nurse with Roaring Fork Family Practice and the chair of Valley View’s Nursing Professional Governance Council, feels the designation has helped improve the quality of care for patients. “Personally, this has provided me with educational opportunities, including the quality and patient safety programs that allow me to provide high-quality care in an environment that encourages collaboration. By connecting with patients and colleagues in a meaningful way, I find joy in my work by employing techniques, such as mindfulness, to navigate some of the more emotionally difficult aspects of our work. What we do is important and also difficult, so it’s nice to receive the designation that validates that support.”

“Valley View is committed to nurses, to what nurses identify as important to their practice and to valuing our nurses contributions in the workplace. This designation confirms that nurses at Valley View know their efforts are supported,” said Valley View Chief Nursing Officer Sandy Hurley.

The burnout of healthcare professionals has been a hot topic in recent years as more and more workers are leaving the profession. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in 2014 an estimated 17.5 percent of newly-licensed RNs leave their first nursing job within the first year, and one in three leave within two years.

Hugo hopes the designation will offer a highly visible stamp on the quality of Valley View’s nursing program.

“This designation is a validation of our practice environment, our culture, and the way that nursing is supported here at Valley View,” says Hugo.

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