Developing Professional Practice and Ethics Engagement: A Leadership Model
Nurse leaders are responsible for a practice environment that fosters safe, quality patient outcomes through excellence in nursing practice. This article describes a reflective practice intervention in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit of an urban academic medical center led by the unit nursing director and the hospital's nurse ethicist. The twice monthly case-based discussions, called “Nursing Practice and Ethics Rounds,” were attended by staff and unit managers (nurse director, assistant nurse director, and clinical educator) and were facilitated by the nurse ethicist. The purpose of this descriptive qualitative study was to identify nurses' perceptions of the rounds on individual practice, unit practice, and the practice of their peers. Two focus groups were conducted with nurses who attended 3 or more sessions. Staff reported that they felt valued; experienced a decrease in moral distress; and improved empathy with patients, families, and other staff members after the intervention. They also reported better understanding of ethical issues and language to better talk about them. The presence of nurse leaders was valued as affirming the importance of practice development and of witnessing the experience of staff nurses. Finally, the process of reflection was valued for the opportunity it provided to process emotional and intellectual aspects of challenging cases.