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Career Story: Director Of Nursing And Patient Safety

Director Of Nursing And Patient Safety

Job Title: Director Of Nursing

Type of Company: I work for a large comprehensive cancer center.

Education: MSN, Nursing

Previous Experience: I worked as a staff nurse at an oncology hospital before being promoted to nurse educator and Nurse Director. I have been here for two decades.

Job Tasks: I am the director of patient safety. I work to make the hospital systems, and especially the distribution of medicines, safer for our patients. I receive reports or errors and near misses and then I work with staff to design safer ways of doing their work.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I get to work with front-line staff and encourage them to think about and design safer ways to care for patients. The worst part of my job is having to attend a number of meetings, some of which are a waste of time. I do love my job, however, and it feels good knowing that I can affect patients' safety. Many errors get committed in hospitals because of poorly designed systems, and patients can sometimes be killed.

Job Tips: You need to start out as a staff nurse to get as much clinical experience as possible. A master's degree in nursing is required but as you work towards that there are many courses and books that will help explain the concepts. Many hospitals look to staff to be patient safety leaders, so volunteer when you are asked. When you have ideas to improve safety let your manager know and come up with suggestions to fix things. Management will then see how interested you are this area and get you more involved.

Additional Thoughts: It is important if you want this type of job that you pay careful attention to detail and not ignore problems when they occur. Many people are surprised when I tell them that thousands of patients die each year due to simple (and preventable) mistakes. Most errors are not due to staff negligence or not caring but occur because poorly-designed systems enable these things to happen. Working in a medical environment is a very busy complex job.

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