Staying on top of the latest research is part of providing the finest care, pursuing personal research interests and advancing knowledge that can lead to improved care representing real innovation. NorthShore University HealthSystem’s (NorthShore) Nursing Research Council was established to help nurses conduct and disseminate research, empowering them with both information and resources, and reflecting the organization’s real commitment to nurses.

“This is not the norm,” said Nancy Rodriguez, PhD, RN, APN/CNP, Nursing Research Council Chair at NorthShore. “We’ve elevated the bar and this makes NorthShore unique.”

Two nurses now sit on NorthShore’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), and a real bridge has been established with the NorthShore Research Institute, which provides access to statisticians, data management and other expertise, according to Dr. Rodriguez. Her own research began with a pilot study in 2004 looking at an innovative method to administer mother’s colostrum, or early milk, via the oropharyngeal route as a potential immunostimulant for extremely premature infants. Initial results were positive, and Dr. Rodriguez is now moving forward with a larger study supported with funding from NorthShore’s Medical Group and Research Institute grant program.

The number of nurses interested in research continues to grow, and new studies are now awaiting IRB approval. “Even simple clinical questions when properly addressed can make a very big difference in terms of patient outcomes,” Rodriguez said. “I think the interest in doing research is all tied into the desire to provide better care. Nurses realize they can really make a difference in improving outcomes.”

Clear, focused communication is critical to patient care. As a technology-focused institution, it is not surprising that NorthShore has leveraged a simulation lab training program for improved communication based on the Situation Background Assessment Recommendation (SBAR) method. Close to 100 percent of nurses from NorthShore’s Evanston, Glenbrook and Highland Park Hospitals have completed SBAR training with a dummy patient lab experience. Physicians and nurses alike have reported benefits.

Crew Resource Training, adapted from a program used by the airline industry, is yet another initiative adopted this year to help nurses with assertiveness and enhanced essential communication across disciplines. An increase in multidisciplinary rounds, nursing lead huddles, improved communication between departments and new ways to increase incident reports on near misses are just some of the results of the program.

New bedside rounds have also been put in place to help nurses with patient assessment and related communication, according to Mary Stare, RN, Clinical Nurse Manager at Glenbrook Hospital. “People have really come together to work collaboratively and get this off the ground,” Stare said.