Texas Health Dallas Nurse Embraces New Role as Clinical Leader|
DALLAS — Flame Uytico, R.N., M.S.N., C.N.L., had more than 18 years of experience before becoming a clinical nurse leader (CNL) in the neurological unit at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. This spring, she was among one of the largest CNL classes to graduate from the Texas Christian University program, highlighting a major trend in higher education for nurses.
A CNL is a master’s degree-prepared nurse who serves as a focal point for the patient, family and other members of the care team. The idea for the advanced certification was started in 2004 by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Since then, CNLs have exploded on the hospital scene around the United States. According to the AACN, there are now more than 700 nationally certified CNLs, and more than 80 schools of nursing offering the CNL program.
“The CNL role was designed to enhance the patient’s experience and improve the quality of patient care,” said Uytico, who has been at Texas Health Dallas for 12 years. “I coordinate care for a group of 15 patients with the entire care team. What’s great about it is I have a consistent presence on the unit floor, which allows me to be a resource to the patient, their families and the caregivers.”
The increased interest in educating more CNLs represents a national trend that emerged from the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System.” In response to the IOM’s findings, the AACN created the CNL degree, aiming to strengthen nursing leadership at the “point at which care is delivered.” Unlike traditional nurses — RNs with associate or bachelorette degrees who provide the direct care to patients — the CNL strengthens, supports and leads this care to reduce near-misses, decrease medical errors, decrease length of stay and improve patient satisfaction, safety and outcomes.
The association further emphasizes that the CNLs also have measurable impact on the cost of care, patient and family satisfaction, physician satisfaction and staff retention.
“We have such a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people that we serve,” Uytico said. “I consider my calling to be at the bedside, and this role fits perfectly. The collaboration among the care team in this unit is phenomenal, and we’re working together to help our patients get better care and ultimately better outcomes.”
Earlier this year, Uytico designed and implemented protocols to streamline stroke care processes in the hospital’s medical surgical unit. Follow-up surveys revealed nursing staff reached 100 percent compliance to educate patients about blood clot prevention, stroke prevention, and perform follow-up calls with patients after discharge.
“Flame is a true trailblazer and an inspiration to us all,” said Cole Edmonson, D.N.P., R.N., FACHE, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at Texas Health Dallas. “Her practice as a CNL has already impacted outcomes in our stroke population, as well as being key in our successful stroke re-certification from The Joint Commission. In fact, the CNL program has been so successful we are expanding it to more units in our hospital. I am incredibly proud of Flame and the CNL program at Texas Health Resources and Texas Health Dallas. These CNLs are truly leading from the bedside.”
Texas Health Resources has more than a dozen CNLs in various practice settings at affiliated hospitals and anticipates more growth within the system. Uytico is currently the only practicing CNL at the Dallas campus.
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