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Nurse leader rounding elevates the employee experience too

The COVID-19 pandemic brought into focus the need to prioritize greater emphasis on relationships between all within the care setting. Today, nurse leaders and executives must develop new strategies that center on patients, improve their experiences, and enable better care delivery. 

One of these successful strategies is nurse leader rounding. While not new, proper patient rounding is crucial to improving the patient experience and closing the gap between experience and quality.  

When done effectively and consistently, rounding takes the transactional feeling out of healthcare and correlates with improved patient satisfaction and health outcomes, making for a unique experience driven by the power of Human Understanding 

Building an empathetic leadership presence in the health system fosters an intimate connection with patients. Searching the room for identifiers of patient and/or parent attributes brings the start of a transformational connection that the patient will remember.  

Leaders make the difference

“With patients, nurse leaders should round with the intention to demonstrate strong, visible leadership in their area,” says Toya Gorley, Improvement Advisor at NRC Health. 

However, successful nurse leader rounding also benefits another crucial group within the health system: employees. Providing personalized care and attention may look different between employer and employee, but its core principle is the same: develop a lasting impression that revolutionizes the healthcare experience. Successful nurse leader rounding isn’t an either/or—it’s for both patients and employees.  

An impactful ripple effect

Gorley says the purpose of nurse leader rounding is fourfold. It creates personal emotional connections, ensures safety, initiates service recovery, and solicits staff recognition. It’s a process that has a ripple effect throughout the health system. The benefits of efficient nurse leader rounding with employees extend to the leader, the staff, and the patient, and include: 

  • Reinforced motivation and sense of accomplishment for the leader 
  • Enhanced relationships between the nurse leader and staff 
  • Established trust through the proactive meeting of staff needs  
  • Recognition and rewards for exceptional behaviors 
  • Increased quality of patient care 
  • Greater patient satisfaction (which can lead to improved ratings and scores) 

Elevating the employee experience

The same nurse visibility that provides comfort and reassurance to patients can also support employees. Nurse leaders can ensure that employees feel seen, heard, and valued while rounding, which effectively improves retention, engagement, and the employee experience.  

Nurses spend more time with patients than any other staff member, and without engaging them, they are less likely to put the more nuanced and personal practices into play that make a difference for patients.  

It’s important to know that nurse leader rounding is not one-size-fits-all, nor is it meant to be an interrogation session. It should be an authentic and sincere opportunity to truly connect with employees and patients.  

Here are ways to make rounding stick: 

  • Be specific. Set a target for the number of staff (and patients) to round on or commit to the expectations that have been established by your organization. 
  • Make a plan. Block your calendar and do what you can to protect the time for rounding or tack it on to a recurring meeting to establish consistency. 
  • Ask for support. Find someone who rounds effectively and ask them for advice. If training and resources are available, take advantage of them. 
  • Seek accountability. Have an accountability partner and share the goal and expectation with them. Establish regular check-ins and be open to feedback. 
  • Celebrate wins. Identify where things have improved and share the story with others. If you see someone else’s success, highlight it. 
  • Regroup when needed. Sustaining nurse leader rounding is difficult. Don’t give up! 

Rounding is just as much a focused time to connect with employees as it is a service for patients. Nurse leaders must intentionally and deliberately show the same care and compassion to employees as they do for patients.  

Done well, nurse leader rounding is an opportunity for genuine, authentic, and eye-opening connection that demonstrates more than a desire to improve patient experience scores and can take the healthcare experience from good to great.