By Becky Carter
President and CNO, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital
May 6-12 was National Nurses week. I’m profoundly grateful for the nurses at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, and I know you are too. It’s hard to find someone whose life hasn’t been positively touched by a nurse, and often, special bonds develop between patients and their nurses. As the largest group of licensed providers at BRRH, nurses play a key role in all aspects of care.
As I reflect on the influence of nurses at BRRH, I’m impressed by how engaged they are in our efforts toward quality, safety, and service. Their excellent work led us to apply for the Pathways to Excellence (PTE) designation. Created by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, hospitals that attain this designation are recognized as great places where nurses can work and grow. In turn, institutions that can attract and retain nurses have been shown to be safer, and have more satisfied patients. PTE hospitals support equitable pay for nurses and offer educational opportunities and professional development programs to nursing staff. They also have great nursing leadership, and acknowledge and appreciate nurses’ work. We’re the first Mission Health member hospital to apply for this designation. BRRH nurses are leading the way in this system goal.
The importance of nursing was highlighted prominently in 2010, when a partnership between the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published the Future of Nursing Report. Its recommendations included increasing diversity, elevating educational goals for nurses, and ensuring that nurses are present in every level of healthcare. Nurses are key to transforming healthcare, and in addition to their work at the bedside, nurses must also influence care delivery by working as administrators and policy makers.
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that patient outcomes are improved when a nursing staff has a high percentage of bachelor’s degree-prepared nurses. BRRH has the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree-prepared nurses in the Mission system. Our nurses attribute this to the leadership of educators in the Mayland Community College Nursing Associate’s Degree program. The Mayland faculty maintains a strong relationship with the Lees-McCrae College Nursing Program. They emphasize, from application to graduation, that nurses must continue their education by adding a bachelor’s degree as early in their careers as possible.
Across Mission Health System, every hospital President is a nurse, which isn’t a coincidence. The nursing background shapes us throughout our careers, even when we move on to administrative roles. I’m excited to see the many roles for nurses locally, from bedside nurses who work one-on-one with patients and surgical nurses who care for patients in a way they may never remember, to clinic nurses who focus on health, wellness and prevention. Our nurses are also managers, educators, and quality and safety experts.
Everyone at BRRH values our corps of talented nurses, and we’ll continue to wholeheartedly support initiatives that support the education of nurses.
Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE is President and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system.
Ms. Carter is board certified in healthcare management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Carter is currently a resident of Burnsville.