Laura Vento was nurse of the year for a reason. She implemented a new system that would ensure patients go home from the hospital prepared to take care of themselves. On top of that, she is mentoring a new generation of nurses to create their own research projects.
It is this kind of nurse-led research that caught the attention of Magnet, which recently recognized UC San Diego Health System for its high-quality nursing care.
“The Magnet team noted that our nurses are passionate about giving excellent patient care, but also how supportive our system is with nurse-led research,” Vento said. “If you have the passion for a project, we have the people and the systems in place to help you accomplish that work.”
After her father was sent home from a hospital stay a few years ago ill prepared to care for himself because of an error in medications, she decided to change the system. Vento decided to implement a new process called “teach back.” This method encourages nurses to have their patients repeat the steps they should follow at home after the nurse instructs the patient.
In this way, nurses can ensure the patient has thoroughly understood the care instructions. Vento has since taught many nurses this “teach back” method at seminars at UC San Diego Health System and through a national webinar at the Society of Hospital Medicine conference in San Diego. She will learn in April if she will be chosen to present her method to nurses at the National Magnet conference.
This method has increased some patient satisfaction scores, but final results of the study are not yet available.
Vento has since stepped into a leadership role, teaching new nurses how to conduct their own studies and identify new processes. In one trip, she collaborated with medical center librarian, Mary Wickline, to show nurses how to conduct research.
“Nobody knows a problem better than the nurse at the bedside because they live it every day,” Vento said. “That is why nurses are the key to improving quality.”
She researched several hospitals after graduating from nursing school four years ago, but none offered her as many opportunities for research and advancement in her career.
“UC San Diego has helped me grow both personally and professionally,” Vento said. “Here we are always asking how we can make things better.”