Fostering a winning organizational culture while positioning patient care at the center requires a strong, culturally-aware nursing team --- a team that practices values in support of the organization’s vision while protecting the culture from unwanted “viruses” and celebrating the victories along the way. It all boils down to this: Health care that is patient-centered is likely to be culturally competent, and culturally competent health care is likely to be patient-centered. The two are invariably, and without exception, linked.
But what is “organizational culture” and how does a winning culture benefit the patient?
Studies show that nursing professionalism and the organizational culture within the hospital environment are two health resources that improve patient outcomes. To achieve a higher quality of patient care requires a spirit of teamwork --- leaders and staff working together to create a culture that respects and balances humanistic values, the organizational vision, and patient advocacy.
A positive organizational culture is complex with its multiple, overlapping layers of people, policies and procedures, as well as the ever-present politics. And yet every person, every position, must serve for the greater good.
When nursing leaders acknowledge the “humanistic value” of organizational culture, an understanding of how employees relate to one another in the work environment becomes evident. After all, relationships are less demanding when there is understanding. The ways in which nurses care for their patients and how their patients respond to this care is greatly influenced by the organization’s understanding of, and respect for, everyone within the culture.
Identifying the organization’s values may require a cultural audit to understand the team’s cultural aspirations. Once the organization’s values are clearly articulated, creating constructive cultures is an opportunity for nursing leaders to develop a vision that aligns with these values.
A well-developed vision is designed to guide the team members, and serves as the foundation of constructive organizational cultures.
By far, the ultimate vision for the nursing profession as a whole was summarized in the IOM’s Future of Nursing report: “Nurses working as full partners collaborating and redesigning healthcare using the full extent of their higher levels of education and training to improve the information structure --- all of this designed to build and nurture a positive organizational culture to foster patient-centered care.”
The report’s summary is simple, but the delivery and sustainability of its vision are anything but.
Organizations that adopt values designed to reflect an understanding of cultural diversity within the patient population and the employee teams must be established and nurtured, to ensure the following:
To improve patient-centered care and foster a winning organizational culture with strong, positive people, most nurses would agree on the importance of clinically competent nurses, collaborative working relationships, autonomous nursing practice, appropriate staffing, and administrative support.
Patient-centered care and culturally-competent organizations depend on timely and disciplined practices to create conditions that are most favorable for work environments. When all departments support the humanistic values within the culture, key relationships -- nurse-to-nurse, nurse and physician, and most importantly, the patient-nurse relationship -- are strengthened.
At the end of the day, nursing teams must celebrate even the smallest of victories where values were practiced, relationships valued, and the vision was realized. When the entire organization practices patient-centered care and integrates the values while guided toward the vision, a winning organizational culture can be actualized. Balancing the cultural competence and patient-centered care pendulum requires every employee to value others and participate as a team.
What visions do you value, or what values do you vision? Which comes first? What victories have been achieved? Tell us in the comments below.