There are a number of methods organizations can use to help demonstrate visibility of their CNO, and with readily available, user-friendly technology all around us, something as simple as blogging can turn into a road of communication between the CNO and the staff. St.Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, for example, turned to the nursing portal on its intranet.
"This is our one-stop shop for nurses," says Sallie Latty, MA, BSN, RN, MRP coordinator at St.Vincent. "We were looking at ways to meet the needs of a younger generation." That younger generation would be more tech-savvy and more likely to look for updates through electronic means, such as a blog.
It's not a small task to reach all of the organization's nurses, either—there are 2,300 nurses at St.Vincent, 1,500 of those at the bedside.
Although talking leadership into adopting new or different technology options can be a challenge in healthcare settings, this was not the case at St.Vincent. It didn't take any convincing to get the CNO to participate in a blog.
"Our CNO loved it the minute the idea popped up," says Latty. "There was no need for encouragement— she was really excited about it."
The blog's content started directly.
"The very first blog posted was meant to gain feedback on how the nursing staff wanted our CNO to be visible in the organization," says Latty. "Did they want [her] to have public forums, tours of their units, shadow nurses—what were their thoughts?"
The hope was to use the blog as a direct communication tool. But the first post received only 19 responses.
"We needed to increase awareness the blog existed," says Latty. "So we focused our efforts on communication."
Posts were also used to educate as well as thank staff members. For example, one post talked about the daunting task of implementing the electronic medical record (EMR).
"We recently implemented the EMR, and the last blog talked about that, discussing how there might be bumps in the road and thanking everyone for doing their part," says Latty.
Setting up the blog was simple. St.Vincent had the blog up and running in less than one day with the help of the organization's IT department.
It was so convenient, in fact, that it led to one of the first lessons of creating a blog: Have a communication plan in place.
"One thing we realized—and it's still a pretty new blog—is that if you don't keep the posts current, people stop going to the site," says Latty.
And given how busy every CNO is, finding time to write blog posts on a regular basis can be tough. Although they may not take much time, they do require a good deal of thought.
"In hindsight, because the idea surfaced quickly and there was so much excitement, we didn't spend much time planning what the process would be, what the purpose would be for the blog," says Latty.
She suggests spending some time with all the parties involved in conceiving and maintaining the blog to create a plan and goal before implementing it.
"Do that up front," says Latty. "Two questions we encountered later were: Do people know about it? And what is our plan for keeping it current?"
The blog had the potential to reach those staff members who can be the most difficult for CNOs to find.
"We felt the blog would be a good way to communicate with staff that might be on the night shift, or weekends only," says Pat Craig, MSN, MBA, RN, FACHE, an MRP coordinator at St.Vincent. "These are times when leadership isn't always personally available."
The CNO also started to receive direct e-mails from staff who did not want to post feedback publicly. However, those who do leave public comments can do so anonymously. "Staff have the option of leaving their name or not," says Latty.
Concerning public posts, two unexpected developments occurred:
"It's interesting to have non-nurses responding," says Latty. In fact, the blog received one suggestion from a member of the security staff on how to improve collaboration between nursing and security that turned out to be worth exploring.
The CNO traveled the floors, encouraging staff members throughout the implementation process. The blog provided a way for the CNO to reach out to staff to convey her experiences and thank them for their efforts. It also gave the CNO a chance to discuss her experiences and observations after shadowing a nurse.