Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing


Niehoff alum finds teaching nurses clinical skills and compassion improves outcomes

MAYWOOD, Ill. – Nursing orientation programs that address both the compassionate and scientific aspects of patient care help to improve patient satisfaction scores and reduce the incidence of falls and pressure ulcers, according to data published July 22, 2014 in the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development.

“Nursing orientation typically focuses on hospital-specific policies, equipment use and clinical skills rather than on the emotional connection between nurses and patients,” said Pam Clementi, PhD ’06, RN-BC, co-author and nurse manager, Department of Nursing Education, Loyola University Health System. “Educating nurses on both the nurturing and technical side of the profession will given them a more comprehensive approach to patient care.”

The Institute of Medicine reported in 2011 that nurses need to provide holistic, patient-centered care that goes beyond the physical health needs to recognize and respond to the social, mental and spiritual side of patients and their families.

Loyola University Health System recognized this need and implemented a patient-centered model of care in new units of its hospital. The organization added a one-day training program to the general nursing orientation to address the new model and the compassionate side of nursing. The program educated nurses about communication, attentive body language, honesty, listening skills, empathy, concern and respect for patients.

After one year of practicing the patient-centered model of care, quality improvement data demonstrated that patient satisfaction scores were much higher and the incidence of falls and pressure ulcers were much lower in units that used the new model. The training was expanded to all Loyola University Health System inpatient nurses as a result.

The notion that nursing practice encompasses both compassion and clinical skills dates back to Florence Nightingale. Nightingale demonstrated that nurses who practiced infection control measures could improve mortality rates and the well-being of hospitalized soldiers when the nurse was emotionally present.

“Nurses are at the front lines of patient care,” Dr. Clementi said. “Those who have strong clinical skills and who know how to be there for patients in a time of need are invaluable to their profession.”