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AACN program to teach innovation, leadership

Friday April 6, 2012
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A new hospital-based nurse leadership and innovation training program from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses aims to empower bedside nurses as clinician leaders and change agents whose initiatives measurably improve patient outcomes and hospital finances.

AACN Clinical Scene Investigator Academy, or AACN CSI Academy, is designed to equip staff nurses in participating hospitals with enhanced skills in leadership, project management and social entrepreneurship, as well as an understanding of the fiscal impact of nursing interventions.

For 16 months, a team of up to four nurses in selected hospitals will work with CSI faculty, an internal mentor and the CNO to identify issues related to patient care and develop and implement unit-based projects resulting in quantifiable improvements in patient outcomes and decreases in hospital expenses. The program is conducted in the nurses’ local communities, and learning is integrated into their existing patient care responsibilities.

"The goal of this new program is to assist nurses in strengthening their skills and influence to effect positive change within the increasingly complex hospital environment," AACN CEO Wanda Johanson, RN, MN, said in a news release.

AACN CSI Academy will provide each participating hospital with a $10,000 implementation grant to support the teams’ learning and project implementation. Overall, AACN will invest $1.25 million over the next three years to initiate the program.

The program is part of AACN’s response to the vision and recommendations in the Institute of Medicine report, "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health," which confirmed the vital role nurses can and should play in the transformation of healthcare. AACN CSI Academy participants will share their experiences and results online to extend the reach of the program and foster industry-wide nursing innovation.

Past successes

The academy expands a successful pilot program originally developed by the Bi-State Nursing Innovation Center in Kansas City, Mo., with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. AACN has engaged the director of that program, Susan Lacey, RN, PhD, FAAN, to lead the AACN CSI Academy.

"Nurses are quality agents who ensure safe passage through a complex healthcare system," Lacey said in the news release. "This program enhances nurses’ ability to fulfill this role."

In the pilot program, initiatives developed by nurse participants resulted in substantial improvements in patient outcomes, including an 80% reduction in heel ulcers at one hospital and significant reductions in communications errors, medical errors and injury-causing falls at another. In total, the nurse-led projects saved $2.6 million across the seven hospitals participating in the program, according to the news release.

The academy will feature a phased rollout over three years. In May, AACN will finalize selection of partner hospitals in the first of six regions in which the program will be offered. The program is not accepting applications at this time.


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