Early-Career Registered Nurses' Participation in Hospital Quality Improvement Activities

Initiatives to strengthen the capacity to provide excellent patient care by increasing quality improvement (QI) practices have grown in the last decade. In this study, the authors examine two cohorts of newly registered nurses, two years apart, to compare participation in QI activities.

The first cohort of registered nurses (RNs) was surveyed from October 2008 through January 2009 (N=115). The second cohort was surveyed from October 2010 through February 2011 (N=424). Respondents were sampled from the same 15 states. Participation in 14 QI activities was measured via survey which included items relating to: QI education and work participation, demographics, work setting, unit type, job title, and Magnet hospital status.

Key Finding:

  • Except for QI practices specific to reducing nosocomial infection rates through the use of hand washing, no significant differences were noted between the two cohorts.

One limitation to this study is that it measured time spent in QI activities based on respondent’s perceptions. A more comprehensive, direct observation study of time spent utilizing QI activities may help fill the gaps in understanding how RN participation in QI relates to quality patient care. The growth of initiatives intended to increase QI practices among RNs early in their career needs further study.