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New center at the School of Nursing emphasizes quality, safety and innovation

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Langston Center namesake Nancy Langston, Ph.D., rises during a standing ovation recognizing her for the 22 years that she served as dean of the VCU School of Nursing.

During a presentation at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing last week, American Academy of Nursing immediate past president Diana Mason, Ph.D., challenged attendees to envision a health care model that puts patient safety and quality care at the forefront.

“We have to redefine what we mean by health care and focus on improving the quality and safety of essential services,” Mason said. “The organizational culture and ethics of the health system are the keys to providers being able to live up to the expectations of patient-centered care.”

I see innovation and vision in its goals and I think it can be a leader for the rest of the nation.

Mason was speaking at the grand opening of the Langston Center for Quality, Safety and Innovation, a new center housed within the School of Nursing that promotes patient-centered, population-focused and cost-effective quality and safety initiatives designed to improve health care. She said the new center at VCU exemplifies the innovative model of care she described. “The Langston Center is on the right track,” Mason said. “I see innovation and vision in its goals and I think it can be a leader for the rest of the nation.”  

Nearly 100 people representing both VCU campuses and the health system attended the event that marked the official launch of the center. Seated in the middle of the auditorium was Nancy Langston, Ph.D., the former dean of the School of Nursing for whom the center is named.

“The Langston Center is dedicated to providing education, activities and resources that foster patient-centered and quality health care that is safe, collaborative and cost-effective,” said School of Nursing Dean Jean Giddens, Ph.D., adding that the opening event was a historic occurrence for the school. “Although the center is housed within the School of Nursing, it really serves as a hub for work associated with quality and safety for the entire university and the VCU health system.”

Already before the opening event, work had begun to improve education in health care quality, safety and innovation. Earlier this year, the School of Nursing, in collaboration with the center, launched a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a focus on quality and safety. The school also added a research focus on quality and safety to its Ph.D. program.

“The center will be a hub of resources for people that want to work with quality and safety,” said center director Marianne Baernholdt, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems. Baernholdt joined VCU in August 2014 after serving as the director of the Rural and Global Health Care Center at the University of Virginia. She has been doing research and developed courses in quality and safety for more than 10 years. Since arriving at VCU, she has supported quality-, safety- and innovation-related projects within the School of Nursing and at the health system.

Langston Center director Marianne Baernholdt, Ph.D., with current VCU School of Nursing dean Jean Giddens, Ph.D.
Langston Center director Marianne Baernholdt, Ph.D., with current VCU School of Nursing dean Jean Giddens, Ph.D.

At the School of Nursing, Baernholdt has worked with Shelly Orr, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems, to develop a global classroom for third-year nursing students to learn about end-of-life care. The initiative was supported by a VCU Quest Global Impact Award. Through a partnership with faculty at the University of Birmingham in England in February, a total of 170 nursing students will be taught about how to provide quality end-of-life care. Two lessons will be taught via video conference between the schools, and students from the U.S. and England will be paired to work together on a group project.

Also through the Langston Center, a project co-led by Kathy Baker, Ph.D., nursing director of resource management and emergency services for VCU Health, examines barriers and facilitators for nurses to practice to the fullest extent of their license. The Langston Center helped with the project by assisting with budgeting and planning, as well as helping with presentations and publications. The researchers have interviewed staff nurses across Virginia and preliminary findings suggest that teamwork and collaboration are the two things that nurses say are most important in facilitating the delivery of quality care.

Think of what medicine might look like 10 years from now if we make that a reality.

“We at VCU Health have been on a journey to high reliability with a bold goal of being the safest health system in America,” said John Duval, vice president for clinical services and CEO of VCU Hospitals.

Speaking to the room full of nurses, physicians, faculty, hospital administrators, alumni and students, Duval encouraged the audience to imagine a future in which clinicians, leaders and learners emerge from their programs just as skilled in the methods of quality improvement and the science of safety as they are in their medical arts.

“Think of what medicine might look like 10 years from now if we make that a reality,” Duval said. “That is the promise of the Langston Center.”

 

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