The Alberta health care system has been in a state of turmoil and change for some time now, with regional boards superseded by the new Super Board, threats of bed closures, various labour issues, a Cabinet shuffle, the Budget, and a new Minister who is reversing many prior policy positions, all adding to the turbulence.
The CLPNA has been looking at this situation and learning from it. We have also been wondering what this confusion is doing to the public’s perceptions of what they want from professional nursing in Alberta. So we commissioned Cambridge Strategies Inc. to do a survey of Albertans and CLPNA members to get some answers. The conjoint survey was designed to get information, insight and clarity on what values Albertans, and LPNs, see as most important for driving and guiding the delivery of professional nursing care in the province.
What we found was very interesting and especially helpful for LPNs and our work in the health care system. The most wonderful finding was that the most important value drivers that define professional nursing care for Albertans and LPNs are exactly the same. What Albertans told us was they expected nurses to be skilled, knowledgeable, caring/compassionate, thorough, responsible, and ethical. Those are the core professional and personal values LPNs live by every day and were also confirmed in the survey results completed by our members.
Over 1400 CLPNA members completed the survey and we found that LPNs have the exact same values, and in the exact same order of priority as the general public. That value and expectation alignment with our members and the public is a key for our members asserting our place and purpose in the future of health care delivery in Alberta. It shows us how we can be better recognized for who we are professionally and how we help patients and their families when in the system.
Another key survey finding is the pride that LPNs have in their work and how actively engaged we are in our professional lives. We found that 72% of LPNs see themselves as actively engaged in their profession. Even with all the uncertainty and doubt in the future direction of the Alberta health care system 66% of LPNs are telling others “great things about being an LPN.” There are 67% of us who “have intense desires to remain in nursing.” What is even more dramatic is 89% of LPNs surveyed “are committed to using my full education and skills” and 91% believe our “actions are improving health care for patients.” We are proud, professional nurses who know we make a difference in the lives of our patients
On the other side of the coin is the fact that only 33% of LPNs feel valued as a nurse in Alberta. Only 39% of us think we are more valued now by our employers than three years ago. Only 53% of LPNs believe their employers make full use of the skills of LPNs. There is obviously room for improvement in the health care system. Employers must make more and better use the professional skill, training and knowledge of LPNs, and likely other members of the health care team as well.
In conclusion, the survey shows that we have very good, qualified, skilled, caring, and compassionate people working as LPNs. But we are working in an unstable system fraught with uncertainty that undervalues our capacity and role. On the other hand, the public and LPNs are totally aligned with a common value set about what professional nursing care needs to be. What our profession has is a communications challenge.
Ken Chapman of Cambridge Strategies will speak in greater detail on the survey results at Spring Conference on April 8, 2010. He will share insights on the survey results and their implications. He will show how LPNs can use the survey to serve and satisfy expectations of Albertans around qualities of professional nursing care. He will also share his ideas on what LPNs can do to further gain the respect and recognition our profession deserves from the powers-that-be and the public for our contribution to high quality professional nursing care in Alberta.
The next steps to achieving those goals are up to all of us. It is not just the CLPNA or individual members working in isolation that will advance the appreciation and understanding of the role of LPNs in the health care system. The CLPNA will be designing, developing, and delivering a communications strategy to take the message and power of our engaged, caring, compassionate, and skilled LPN members to some key target audiences. So stay tuned and keep regularly connected to the CLPNA website (www.clpna.com), and this Blog for more information.