Training to New Standards Following Extreme Change in Inpatient Psychiatric Units

Carrie Pike, MSN, RN-BC, Lisa Williams, MSN, RN-BC, Norah Vo, BSN, RN-BC

Following a national increase in suicide, regulatory bodies made changes to standards related to inpatient psychiatric environments. In order to expedite necessary changes, inpatient psychiatric units at Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) temporarily closed for construction. A prolonged closure created a need for robust staff re-education, both to provide training related to the new standards and to allow staff to refresh their skills while away from the units.

A two-day training course was created and implemented ahead of unit reopening. Content included regulatory and policy updates, operational changes, documentation, and hands-on skills including searches, restraints, and medical emergency response. Prior to this training, the team lacked a structured approach to a multidisciplinary rounding process.

A new structured process was employed. As a result, the entire multidisciplinary psychiatry team meets several times during the week to discuss the plan of care for each patient. This team works together to help patients achieve treatment goals.

All learning activities were group-based and incorporated game-based learning or technology. Groups included a blend of both clinical roles and primary units to encourage teambuilding and problem-solving across clinical areas.

A post survey revealed that staff found this training relevant, helpful, and effective to make practice changes. Staff shared positive comments about the training and highlighted that they enjoyed working together. Specific comments included:

  • “the discussions were truly inspiring and I enjoyed the methods it presented”
  • “the scavenger hunt was fun and the second day was more interactive”
  • “I feel like it was good reminder of working as a team to keep patients safe”

It gave a team that had been through a very challenging few months a sense of cohesion, unity, and hope for positive change and innovation as we move forward. Participating in this multiday training event gave staff a renewed sense of confidence and pride on the units, and has led to zero self-harm incidents on RUMC’s inpatient psychiatric units since reopening.

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