Hospitals today have nurses of varying ages across 4 very different and distinct generations. A lot of nurses have been working at the same place for the majority of their career and are comfortable doing what they have always done. They are also a little too comfortable using the medical devices they have always used. Nurses might have a favorite medical brand that they favor because, well, that’s what they have always used. Is there a reason that they have always used that brand other than it was just what the hospital always stocked? Nurses don’t know what they are missing out on because often times they aren’t even interested in finding out. This is a problem that needs to be addressed.
In the journal “How to Implement Change in Practice”, Dean Gesme and Marian Wiseman write that not implementing change because of stagnation can jeopardize a practice¹. Not wanting to embrace change isn’t just a personal decision; it is a decision that can affect an entire institution.
Another point that Gesme and Wiseman expand on is that you need effective leadership for a change to be successful. If upper level management is in charge of ordering supplies, but isn’t open to hearing the needs of their staff, change will never be made. An effective leader needs to be open to suggestions. They say that a leader needs to be able to say yes to doing what is necessary to lead. Yes, nurses unwilling to change are part of the equation, but if upper management is unwilling to change, there is no chance of change at all.
Perhaps the reason that many nurses don’t want to embrace change is because they are busy working 12-hour shifts, and any inconvenience can disrupt their flow that they have so carefully perfected. Nurses need to weigh the pros and cons. If they start using a new (better) product, they may have a small adjustment period that can add an extra minute here or there to their day. However, after the adjustment period is over, they will shave time off of every patient visit. Sometimes it is necessary to look at the bigger picture. Nurses who are overworked and too busy with their day sometimes only see the NOW. What they need to see is the possibility for a better future.
Gesme and Wiseman explain that there will always be naysayers when confronted with change, but that they need to be approached immediately and asked to explain their resistance. It is important to know why they feel the way they do, and to communicate to them why they should change.
Another issue is laziness – not of the nurses – but of materials management. Every time a new product is brought in to a hospital, materials management needs to do a cost analysis of the new product. This takes work, and many might not be willing to take the time to do it if they already know that the current product functions. They need to have an open mind and understand that a little work now might mean less work in the future.
The last point I want to touch upon is age. According to Allied Staffing Networks, “the overall average age of an RN in the United States is 50”². American Nurse today says that nurses need to release their attachment to the past and focus on the future, because the future belongs to those who create it³.