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Nursing at West Penn Hospital

Welcome to the "Nursing at West Penn" website, created by nurses at West Penn Hospital to describe excellence in patient care and service and to highlight professional development opportunities and professional achievements of our nurses.

West Penn Hospital is the first in the region to achieve Magnet® designation for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (2006) and the first regionally to be redesignated Magnet® (2012).

For more information:

For more information:

Mary Ann Raible, BSN, RN, Magnet Program Director

About nursing at West Penn

Nurses at West Penn Hospital take pride in providing the highest-quality, patient-focused care in state-of-the-art facilities. We work closely with physicians and other staff to help each patient/family achieve their optimal health goals. We seek to advance professionally and contribute to the health of our communities near and far.

Nursing practice at West Penn Hospital is based on the theory framework of Imogene King and on the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN's) Synergy Model for Patient Care, as described in the article below by Jacqueline A. Collavo, MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, West Penn Hospital, that appeared in the Nursing Division's peer-reviewed journal (vol. 15, no. 2) Professional Paradigms.

Synergy and nursing professional practice

Today’s nurses must continually focus on best practices and nursing excellence. This article explains our PPM, which incorporates concepts of the AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) Synergy Model for Patient Care as well as principles of Imogene King into our established procedures for authority and accountability for clinical decision-making and outcomes.

The PPM (Professional Practice Model)

Nursing professional practice at West Penn Hospital is organized and operationalized through our shared governance model and professional practice model to ensure that decision-making involves all levels of nurses, from individual staff nurses to departments, to management and leadership. Staff input is valued and carefully considered in policy development, standards of care, and all decisions that affect patient care delivery. Additionally, staff nurse involvement regarding decisions concerning professional development opportunities; retention, recognition, and rewards; quality of work life, relationships with physicians and other members of the healthcare team; and overall job satisfaction is carefully considered in all aspects of decision-making.

Nurses are valued for their dedication and commitment to best practices and for their contributions to quality patient care outcomes. Nurses are supported with resources, educational opportunities, and career advancement opportunities, and they are recognized as integral decision-makers with the ability to impact patient care. The nursing management team supports and believes that coaching, mentoring, and professional development opportunities are integral components of leadership and that the nursing leadership team should be visible and accessible and encourage open communication and collaborative working relationships with all nurses at all levels.

Nurses at West Penn Hospital practice

  • within the scope of the Pennsylvania Nurse Practice Act and other regulatory constraints (e.g. The Joint Commission)
  • within the health system’s and West Penn Hospital’s mission, vision, values, and organizational structures and
  • according to the Nursing Division’s:
    • Mission, Values and Beliefs,
    • Organizational Structure,
    • Shared Governance Model (Management Approach, Professional Relationships, and Professional Development and Achievements),
    • Professional Practice Model, and
    • Care Delivery Systems

These five components create a synergistic environment in which the patient is central and the nurse has autonomy and accountability for decision-making and works with the entire healthcare team collaboratively and collegially to promote positive patient outcomes, within the framework of the organization’s and the Nursing Division’s mission, vision/values/beliefs, and organizational structure.

When developing our Professional Practice Model (PPM), nurses at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital (WPH) studied and incorporated principles from the AACN (American Association of Critical-Care Nurses) Synergy Model for Patient Care and our theorist Imogene King.

Principles of the AACN synergy model for patient care

The AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care “is a conceptual framework describing a patient-nurse relationship that acknowledges the primary importance of nursing care based on the needs of patients and their families. The fundamental premise of the Synergy Model is that patients’ characteristics drive nurse competencies. When patient characteristics and nurse competencies are in synergy, optimal patient outcomes are more likely to occur.”

There are eight (8) patient characteristics and eight (8) nurse competencies. The eight patient characteristics span the continuum from health to illness. Similarly, the eight nurse competencies span the continuum of skill levels from competent to expert. The eight domains of each are as follows: 

Patient characteristics 

  1. Stability
  2. Complexity
  3. Vulnerability
  4. Predictability
  5. Resiliency
  6. Participation in decision-making
  7. Participation in care
  8. Resource availability

Nurse competencies

  1.  Clinical judgment
  2.  Clinical inquiry 
  3.  Caring practices 
  4.  Response to diversity 
  5.  Advocacy/moral agency 
  6. Facilitation of learning 
  7.  Collaboration 
  8.  Systems thinking

In the synergy model, when the skills of the nurse are matched with the needs of the patient, the care is “synergized” and optimal patient outcomes are achieved.

West Penn Hospital Nursing Division used a free-domain '8-point star' symbol to represent synergy in our Professional Practice Model schematic. We have also used this symbol in our Care Delivery System (CDS) model schematic, which will be a feature article in the next issue of Professional Paradigms, and in educational materials and presentations.

Synergy theory is an appropriate foundation, in addition to the principles of our values and beliefs, for our PPM in that the patient is central to all that the nurse does and the nurse acts synergistically with other nurses and healthcare team members to achieve positive patient outcomes.

The professional and collegial relationships among WPH caregivers are critical to achieving positive outcomes for our patients. Nurses are integral to the 24/7 clinical care provided to the patient. However, the nurse does not practice in isolation. Teamwork, collaboration, consultation, and communication are key elements of the professional nurse’s relationships at WPH. The nurse works synergistically with the healthcare team as an advocate for the patient/family and each other to utilize best practices and achieve positive outcomes.

The healthcare team is composed of nurses, physicians, and many other healthcare providers, both licensed and unlicensed. No one entity can provide care for our patients without the others. The patient is the center of care decision-making, with the professional nurse serving as the patient/family advocate and coordinator of care. The professional nurse is the link for communications among all healthcare team members. The nurse collaborates with every other healthcare team member as an advocate for each patient. Consultation with various members of the healthcare team is encouraged in order to ensure that standards of care are maintained and that quality outcomes are achieved.

West Penn Hospital Nursing Division’s professional practice model, as most recently evaluated and modified (May 2012), is represented schematically as follows:

Jacqueline Collavo, RN, can be reached at Jacqueline.COLLAVO@ahn.org or  (412) 578-5205.

Professional development opportunities

Professional development opportunities for West Penn Hospital nurses include:

  • Professional Recognition Program (mentored staff nurse clinical ladder program)
  • Certification/Recertification in national nursing specialty (exam fee reimbursement and other support)
  • Academic advancement (tuition reimbursement, Hazel Gearhart RN-to-BSN Scholarship)
  • Professional conference participation (assistance with fees, poster preparation)
  • Nursing Research Fellowship
  • Professional Paradigms, the West Penn Hospital Nursing Division's own peer-reviewed professional nursing journal, published since 1994 - view the
    Magnet 2013 issue of Professional Paradigms (PDF)

Professional contributions and recognitions

West Penn Hospital nurses strive to provide exceptional care and to achieve optimal patient care outcomes, to develop professionally, and to contribute to the profession and the community. Our most recent contributions and recognitions include:

Presentations at regional and national conferences:

  • Feb. 11, 2014, Julia Warner, BSN, RN, CWON, Enterostomal Therapist, presented "Prevention of Pressure Ulcers in Neurologically Compromised Children and Adults with Spina Bifida" at Fithian House, Wexford, Pa., to spina bifida clients and parents, sponsored by the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania.
  • Jan. 25-29, 2014, the poster by Tom Culley, BSN, MBA, RN, CVRN-BC, Education and Development; and the STAR Center's Dona Marie Wilfong, DNP, RN, and Laura Daniel, PhD, "Using Simulations to Train CV ICU Nurses Prior to Opening a New Unit," was presented at the Society for Simulation In Healthcare's 4th Annual International Meeting on Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) held at the Moscone West Conference Center in San Francisco."

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