Rush’s New Chief Nurse Talks about Quality of Care

Luzviminda Calo, RN, supplemental staffing nurse, talks with Cynthia Barginere, DNP(c), RN, FACHE.

In May, Cynthia Barginere joined Rush as chief nursing officer, vice president for clinical nursing and associate dean for practice for Rush University Medical Center and the Rush University College of Nursing. Barginere previously served as chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Baptist Medical Center South, a 454-bed, acute care regional tertiary referral center and teaching hospital in Montgomery, Ala.

Rush’s Elizabeth Higgins spoke to her about plans for the future of nursing, education and patient care at Rush.

As chief nursing officer and vice president for clinical nursing, how do you envision your role of leading nursing at Rush?

I think the responsibility of any chief nursing officer is to ensure the appropriateness of clinical practice for nurses across the organization. The overall goal is to make sure that the nursing care is of the highest quality so that patients receive the best possible care and achieve the highest possible outcomes. The nursing care here at Rush has a reputation for being of the highest quality, given its three-time Magnet designation and shared governance model. My role, beyond ensuring the quality of the clinical practice, is to help the nursing service and the leadership team create a vision for Rush, so that we can maintain the Medical Center’s position in nursing and help to drive the future of nursing.

Given health care reform and the nationwide shortage of nurses, how do you see the role of nursing evolving?

Rush is in a unique position to lead nursing in general. Right now, one of the changes to health care across the country is the reduction in the number of patients in hospitals, especially in an acute care environment. Additionally, nurses are going to be needed in a lot more settings and in different types in the future, particularly advanced practice nurses. These changes are happening as we begin to focus on managing the health of a population versus just treating episodes of illness. I believe that in the future nursing will center on leveraging the skill set of nurses in these different settings, allowing them to function at the full extent of their licensure. There will be a spotlight on coordinating the care for patients across the continuum to decrease the need for hospital admissions. We will have to create roles in the outpatient setting to support the patients who have chronic illnesses and help to prevent them from having to come into the hospital. More and more palliative care programs are being developed and designed. Nursing has a very significant role there, particularly advanced practice nurses in palliative care. But all nurses, whether they’re in an acute care setting or an outpatient setting, have a great opportunity to make a significant impact on the quality of care that patients receive.

How will you be involved with helping the university meet the demand for nursing within health care?

Rush has a very strong history around the teacher-practitioner model. I think there is a lot of opportunity for the acute care setting in particular to be an even stronger support for the College of Nursing in the development of the new nurse. It’s not just about giving them a site to practice and to do their clinical work. It’s about being a partner in that training process and having the nursing staff in the organization, whether they’re leaders or bedside nurses, be an active participant in the students’ learning and the training environment. There’s an opportunity here to strengthen that teacher-practitioner model going into the future.

In the time that you’ve been here, what are your impressions of Rush related to learning and patient care?

Most of my interactions so far have been in the hospital. But I’ve been exceedingly impressed with the quality, the level of professionalism and the engagement of the nursing staff.

I find the nursing leadership to be of the highest quality, and they have the ability to lead a huge enterprise in such a graceful way. I’m also impressed by the level of respect that nursing has garnered from the rest of the organization. Every physician whom I’ve talked to speaks highly of the quality of the nursing service here. When I speak with the nursing staff, everybody talks about how collaborative they are with the medical staff. I believe that’s kind of the holy grail for nursing — that collaborative relationship with the physicians, along with the partnership and therapeutic relationship with the patient. I think it’s very fitting that the Rush values are I CARE, I Connect, because that idea really is the essence of the nurse-patient relationship. Caring for patients and connecting with patients to create a therapeutic relationship and to optimize their health outcomes has always been what nursing has tried to accomplish across the board. Rush has created that, not only as a nursing value, but as an organizational value.

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