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Huddle up to get staff closer to evidence-based practice

Successful implementation of evidence-based practice (EBP) can bring a number of patient care benefits to healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, keeping staff nurses engaged can be an uphill battle.

 "A lot of hospitals look for a strategy to [implement EBP] but what sometimes happens is the executions aren't developed," says Cindi Noe, MSN, RN, EBP facilitator at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, GA. "[EBP council members] will have visionary ideas, but can get overwhelmed with the details and so staff members become disengaged."

Keeping a handle on the details may just be a matter of taking initiatives one step at time, according to Noe, and keeping an ongoing focus on EBP so that it becomes part of daily practice, which is especially challenging in today's economic climate.

"There is a lot of cost-cutting and a lot of demands that are being placed," says Noe. "These [EBP] initiatives take time and thought and they take nurses away from the floor to discuss strategies for implementation of these standards."

Aside from economic barriers, Noe says that the hectic, lengthy shifts nurses work make the additional work of EBP initiatives less desirable to staff.

"It's hard to get staff engaged because you have nurses working from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and you are asking them to stay longer for a meeting or to come in on their day off," Noe says. "So there is that time clock mentality of 'Am I getting paid to do this?'"

To solve these issues, Angie Korona, CMS, RN, nurse manager of outpatient surgery at the facility, chose to focus her staff meetings on EBP to maintain staff interest and ensure everyone is focused on improving patient outcomes. She restructured her monthly staff meetings, and now performs 10-15 minute huddles each week at the unit's nursing station.

The huddles provide Korona time to discuss current updates to policies and changes to practice, and any new forms and tools the council implemented that nurses will be required to use.

Charge nurses then perform daily huddles  that discuss the same information, which ensures all staff hear it at least once, says Korona.

Noe says Korona's and the charge nurses' huddles feature smaller groups than the previous staff meetings, which encourages nurses to ask questions about any EBP changes the facility is implementing. And if Korona or the charge nurses can't answer staffs' questions on the spot, they can research them and discuss their findings at the next huddle.

"I have a huddle book including a list of items we went over, any emails I may have sent, and any copies that validate what we discussed in that huddle," says Korona. "I also have a staff sign-in sheet that I can look at and in a glance make sure everyone has gotten this information."

Korona makes this book readily available in case staff need to reference the details about a particular practice going forward.

"I think the huddles empower staff to help make those decisions," she says. "And [the book] gives staff those tools so they don't have to search through their e-mail [for the information], they can spot it immediately," Korona says.