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Fostering Clinical Success: Using Clinical Narratives for Interprofessional Team Partnerships From Massachusetts General is a joy to read, especially for me as a clinical nurse who went on to become a chief nursing officer, a Magnet® appraiser, and now the chief officer of the American Nurses Credentialing Center. So why is this book a joy? Because it establishes what the clinical profession has intuitively known for years: The power of a story matters.

Patient and family stories have been the safety net and road map for many nurses’ clinical treatment plans. But, they lacked credibility because they were just “stories” and not research, evidence, or science. What if stories could be made credible through the systematic approach of research, evidence, and science? Why not fully optimize this way of learning through stories? Why not use stories—or, more accurately, clinical narratives—to enhance the learning environment and clinicians’ practice development? The nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) did just that, fostering a culture of exceptional practice while they were at it.

Before you start reading this book, let me share a personal story of how I became aware of the clinical narratives work that is so beautifully presented in the pages of this book. In the winter of 2013, I had the honor to be a part of the Magnet® Appraisal Team assigned to Massachusetts General Hospital’s third redesignation journey (2003, 2008, and 2013). Boston was enjoying yet another snowstorm as the team arrived. As is generally the case, my journey toward understanding the culture and MGH’s Magnet® status began the minute we landed and set off in the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel.

As the taxi driver pulled away from the airport, he asked where I was heading. I shared the address of the hotel. He confirmed the name and said, “It’s across the way from Mass General, correct?” I said yes, and the driver asked the nature of my visit and business. I told him my business was nursing, and the conversation blossomed. He shared how a wonderful nurse from MGH had helped his wife when she was gravely ill, had helped his family understand what his wife was going through, and had offered him emotional support. He spoke about the doctors, social worker, and respiratory therapists, but mostly about the nurses.

As he shared his story, it became clear that the respect he had for Mass General came from feelings he had about the “team.” As he pulled the taxi up to the hotel entrance, I asked him how his wife was doing. He replied that she had died 6 months earlier from cancer. He said that he was happy, though; his children were grown and were a tremendous support to him, but mostly he was happy his wife was no longer suffering.

He offered great advice on the best place for dinner that evening and then offered a second opinion: “You are a nurse, right? There’s no better bunch of nurses than at that hospital.” We smiled and said our goodbyes, but his openness about his wife’s care stayed with me. It would be just the beginning of the many “stories” the team and I would hear from families, patients, staff, physicians, and community leaders during our Magnet® site visit.

Walking up the driveway to the main entrance, you encounter the many faces of those coming to the facility for care, compassion, and hope. Walking into the main corridor and following the welcome signs to the coffee kiosk, you begin to feel the culture of clinical success. An unusual place, right? Not really. This is the hub of the early morning greetings and camaraderie that you see among all the staff—the mixing of friends, colleagues, peers, patients, families, and newcomers. This spirit of the group exudes welcoming care. MGH is a big place, covering many lives and many square miles. The hospital offers the most advanced healthcare from some of the most prestigious clinicians in the world to patients and communities it serves, and yet the atmosphere feels welcoming and supportive, like a family.

As the site visit progressed throughout the next 4 days, we traveled through patient care units, specialty services, clinics, old buildings, and new buildings, all with a similar feeling of teammates working together, appreciating each individual’s contribution. On many occasions, I saw student nurses and new graduates during their orientation. I witnessed the willingness of experienced nurses to make sure the learning experience was foremost for their newest colleagues, including new medical residents. It was easy to see and hear the clinical narratives in full operation, fully embraced and enculturated into this organization’s fiber.

Our appraisal site visit came to its conclusion. As I had suspected from the first story of teamwork, nursing played a key role in patient and family care. What was most inspiring was that the interprofessional teamwork was so evident and the respect for each other so palpable. This same sense is noted within the pages of Fostering Clinical Success—their story, their narratives, their culture.

The interprofessional and interdisciplinary approach that MGH has enculturated through the clinical narrative way of learning is unique and profoundly successful within this world-class healthcare system. I encourage readers to understand that sustained success in this type of journey comes through sustained commitment from leadership—critical for the vision of this type of work. The vision of CNO Jeanette Ives Erickson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, the Nursing and Patient Care Services team, and their many colleagues has brought the clinical narrative to life and fostered their story of clinical success.

As I write these words, Boston is once again under the siege of winter—the Blizzard of 2015. I can’t help but think about these team members, their strong culture, and their commitment to the people they serve. They are “Boston Strong.” Within these pages you will gain more insight into how they got that way.

With great honor and respect for their work, I offer these humble words of reflection.

Linda Lewis, MSA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE

Chief ANCC Officer/EVP

American Nurses Credentialing Center

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