Nursing at Christiana Care

Our Nursing Journey

Photo of Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming, Ed.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming, Ed.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Every day, in every patient encounter, Christiana Care nurses model Excellence and Love as they serve together to advance The Christiana Care Way. Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming, Ed.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, shares how 2017 was a pivotal year for Nursing at Christiana Care with the nurse-led creation of a new Nursing strategic plan, professional practice model and governance structure; a new inclusive model of care that aligns nurses in acute and community-based practice areas and partners them with clinicians; and a restructured Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice program that builds a robust, strategic nursing research agenda.

What drove the new framework for Nursing at Christiana Care?
I am continually inspired by my colleagues’ commitment to quality, patient safety, excellence and service to our community in support of our mission – The Christiana Care Way. I see each and every day that Christiana Care is an incredible health care organization that lives its mission and takes its values to heart.

Since our health system’s new Values and Behaviors were announced in June, we have worked as an organization to embrace them as they help us live our mission.

Very significantly and tangibly this year, our nurses led us toward our mission with their initiative to standardize nursing practice across the organization. Whether a nurse works on an acute-care unit or cares for our neighbors in a community-based program, we committed to align efforts and provide focus and transparency on the professional practice of nursing in a way in which all nurses could relate. A taskforce of clinical nurses developed guidance documents that direct their own practice and empower nurse leaders to support their staff in a professional governance structure that improves professional practice and positively influences patient outcomes. Our shared commitment here at Christiana Care to serve together, guided by Our Values, Excellence and Love, can only benefit patients by bringing together all nurses across the continuum of care.

How does this new inclusive model of care help Christiana Care nurses serve together more effectively?
Health care today is a team sport. We all have to work together in service to the patient. No one person can do this alone, but together we leverage the power of teams. Everything is moving so much faster today. This makes effective teams that much more important!

Serving together calls upon us to be open to learning from one another about challenges we share and about those that are unique. It compels us to be creative and curious, and to solve problems together.

The synthesized relationship between acute and community care is critical to create systems of care that our neighbors value. When we align our practice, we ensure that we have the resources at the ready to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place with the right providers involved. Whether a patient requires acute, inpatient nursing care, clinical oversight to recover at home, or community-based support to manage a chronic condition, Christiana Care nurses stand ready, stand strong and stand together at every point along the continuum of care to serve with Excellence and Love.

Chief Nursing Officer for Acute Care Catherine Shull Fernald, DNP, RNC-OB, NEA-BC; Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming, Ed.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN and Chief Nursing Officer for Community Care Cynthia Griffin, MS, RN, CPHQ.

How does the restructured nursing research program elevate nursing practice?
In a culture of evidence-based practice, nurses need to be able to assess, appraise, translate and implement evidence. When we apply best practices, provide care with compassion and generosity, explore creative ideas and employ innovative tools and technologies, the outcome is better care, better experiences and better outcomes for our patients and their families. Christiana Care is building a robust, strategic nursing research agenda, with a director of evidence-based practice and nursing research and with two nurse scientists to actively help nurse colleagues conduct nursing research and to advance the scientists’ own research. (Meet the new team on page 13.) When the question, “Is this the best way to do that?” hasn’t been answered, there lies the opportunity to conduct nursing research and develop and publish our own evidence. Now, when another nurse anywhere in the country — in the world — asks the same question, he or she will find the answer because work done here at Christiana Care contributes to the existing knowledge base of nursing science.

You are known for your admiration of nursing pioneer Lillian Wald, who referred to nursing as “Love in Action.” What is a favorite example of this at Christiana Care?
When I think about our nursing staff demonstrating love in action, I’m reminded of:

  • The ICU nurses who brought a long-term ICU patient outside in his hospital bed with all of his IV pumps so that he and his family could enjoy the warmth of the sunshine and fresh air. You should have seen the smile on the faces of that patient and his family — and the nurses’ smiles, as well!
  • The nurse who stayed with a family even after the end of his scheduled shift so that he could support them through the withdrawal of life support and eventual passing of their loved one.
  • The labor and delivery nurses who wheeled a laboring patient up to the preop area so that she could see her mother who was heading into the operating room for a critical surgery. When they reunited mother and daughter after the surgery, the joyful reunion included a third generation!

There are so many more wonderful examples. I invite our nurses to share them with one another as a reminder for each of us why we do what we do — and why we share this passion for the practice of nursing. To me, there is no greater example of Love in Action than the care and compassion and expertise of a nurse.