While she has held many different roles in her four decades of practice, in this story Sandy Germano, BSN, RN, NE-BC, discusses the role of Quality Coordinator she currently holds at the Summa Health System.
I graduated from nursing school in 1978 and have been practicing at Summa Health for over 40 years. During those 40 years I have worked in a variety of settings and have had many opportunities to experience the nursing profession in different venues. I started my nursing career as a PACU nurse. As my career advanced, I became the head nurse in PACU, a nursing supervisor, and then the Director of Surgical Services. In 2004, I felt that I needed a change and it was at that point that I stepped in a different direction and started working as the Quality Coordinator for the Department of Nursing. When I started in quality, we weren’t doing nearly as much quality metrics measuring as we do today. NDNQI was relatively new during this time. Data was collected on a limited number of nursing quality metrics. Of course, now we collect data on a variety of quality metrics and we compare our standing with hospitals and healthcare systems across the country.
I view my role primarily as a mentor and an educator. While I do believe it’s important to hold staff accountable for maintaining compliance I want to make sure that nursing staff truly understand why we do things the way we do. I want nurses to feel empowered to have a voice in their practice and have input into changes that occur.
My best advice for a nurse that might have an interest in quality is to get involved. Have discussions with your Unit Directors to determine what areas on your unit need to be addressed. Participate in clinical ladder programs. Seek out opportunities in your practice that you believe need to be improved or changed. Speak up when you see something happening that you know doesn’t seem right for the patient. Be a change agent!
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my 40+ years of nursing is that change is constant. I’ve seen so many things change in healthcare and in nursing over the course of my career. Learning to adapt and be adept to this state of constant change is key to being successful in this profession.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story with all of you.