Agency Nurses and the Patient Experience

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Today’s episode of the Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast is a discussion about agency nurses and the patient experience with Dianna D. Knight, MSN, RN, NEA-BC. Dianna is Executive Director of Patient and Family Experience and Acute Care Nursing Services at WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“The Great Resignation” and staff turnover are on everyone’s mind right now in many different industries. Healthcare is also being greatly impacted. It’s important to be mindful of the way these challenges might impact the patient experience.

“This has been almost surreal in some regards,” she said. “About one quarter of our nursing workforce is being filled by agency nurses at this time.”

Given her leadership position in Acute Care Nursing Services with WakeMed, we knew she would be the perfect guest to discuss the impact of agency nurses on the patient experience. She gave us important information and feedback on the unique relationship agency nurses have within the organization and ways to ensure they feel welcome, not resented.

“Agency nurses are great nurses; they are engaged and committed to patient care, outcomes, and the profession,” she said.

As the largest health system in North Carolina’s largest county, WakeMed has three acute care hospitals, a physical rehabilitation hospital, 946-beds, and nearly 12,000 employees.

As we hear on today’s episode, ensuring agency nurses are well versed on “The Wake Way” has been key to upholding a healthy culture for the entire WakeMed community of employees and patients.

Dianna has been a registered nurse for 23 years and has practiced her entire career with WakeMed. Much of Dianna’s current role entails setting strategies to meet WakeMed’s patient and family experience goals.

“If I had a magic wand, I would want everybody to understand that the patient and family experience is not just about being nice to patients,” she said.

Dianna added, “My goal would be that everybody on the health care team — whether they’re direct patient care providers or not — understands that everything we do to help people feel engaged in their care and outcomes leads to better quality. It leads to better outcomes for the patients and it leads to a better financial case for your organization, and it also drives our satisfaction and success as we feel proud of and more engaged in our work.”

As we learn on today’s podcast, even in the best of times it can be tough to recruit and retain staff nurses. Dianna walks us through the various ways she and her team face these challenges with strategy, focus, and a commitment to company culture. All of these efforts have driven a fruitful patient and family experience.

“Most of us probably have agency staff with us for the long haul and we cannot omit them from any type of process improvement or education that we’re doing with hired staff,” she said.

Learn More

You can watch today’s podcast on YouTube here:

Visit the WakeMed Health and Hospitals website to learn more about Dianna and her team’s mission.

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Meet Dianna D. Knight, MSN, RN, NEA-BC