It should come as no surprise to providers across the country that nurses often wear a wide variety of hats beyond their role as a patient caregiver. As we begin National Nurses Week 2018, I'd like to take a moment to recognize the importance of nurses in America's hospitals and highlight how we can maximize their impact on patient care.
At a time when providers are prioritizing the patient experience and improvement of outcomes, nurses stand on the frontline, ensuring patients receive consistent attention and high-quality care. Nurses are trusted by their patients and provide invaluable advocacy and support.
Unfortunately, too often, bedside nurses are responsible for “below license” supply chain tasks. When nurses are expected to place supply orders, check inventory, move supplies and correspond with logistics providers and suppliers, they shift from their role as a highly-skilled clinician to serve in the roles of supply tech, communication specialist and inventory manager. These non-clinical tasks remove some of providers' most important talent assets away from patient care and compound the nursing shortage already plaguing most of America's hospitals.
Supply chain shouldn't be an afterthought, but nor should it be a nurse's job. It's greatly preferable that providers assign tasks like inventory management and logistics to non-clinical staff or outsourced providers who specialize in such tasks and have the bandwidth to handle them accurately and efficiently. This not only frees up nurses to focus on clinical care (and improves job satisfaction!), but also ensures an efficient and cost-effective supply chain.
When items are delivered on time and stocked in the right quantities, a provider's supply chain gains an important benefit: trust. When clinicians trust their organization's supply chain, they're less likely to resort to habits like hoarding or overordering just to ensure adequate supplies. By turning supply chain tasks over to professionals, and away from nurses' responsibility, there are lower costs, fewer delays in care and higher satisfaction for both staff and patients.