Program Newsletters Educate Staff and Streamline Communication

May 18, 2018

Staff at the Alcohol, Drug, and Addiction Inpatient Program have noticed a significant drop in emails from Christopher A. Richard, BSN, RN, the nurse manager for the program.

That’s because about a year and a half ago, Richard began publishing a two-page weekly newsletter chock full of timely information on everything from policy reminders to new hires. The publication also includes Joint Commission/Department of Mental Health inspection readiness tips, kudos to staffers who have gone above and beyond, and a longer section on a clinical topic—a recent newsletter excerpted from a study of amphetamine use and dependence in vulnerable female populations.

“People are inundated with emails, and rather than shooting off 30 emails a week, if you have one communication tool, people will be more likely to read it,” explained Richard, who sends the newsletter to everyone at the program, including physicians and social workers.

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“Newsletters are a great vehicle to individualize communications within a particular unit,” commented Linda M. Flaherty, RN, PMHCNS-BC, senior vice president for Patient Care Services. “I appreciate any creative strategies people use to engage with their staff that is pertinent to their clinical services,” she added.

When Cindy Ruscitti, MS, RN, nurse director of the Older Adult Program in the Geriatric Psychiatry Inpatient Services, learned about Richard’s newsletter, she decided to give it a try and published her first one last May. Through her monthly publication, she educates staff on topics that are relevant to their work. “I’m always concerned about the way we view and talk to patients, which was the impetus for a recent article I wrote about stigma and recovery,” said Ruscitti. Other feature articles have discussed major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder and explained techniques such as sensory interventions.

Ruscitti’s favorite part of her monthly newsletter is the Q & A she does with a different staff member each month. This section, called “5 Questions,” challenges a staff member to answer five questions about themselves that others may find fun or interesting. The person then nominates a fellow staff member to answer questions the following month. Ruscitti credits the idea to Jeanne McElhinney, MS, RN, BC, nurse director of the Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Inpatient Program, who has been utilizing newsletters to communicate with staff for over a year. This fun segment builds team cohesion by giving insight into co-workers’ musical interests, special talents, and even secrets! Ruscitti embraces her new communication strategy. “I love to write—I used to write short stories—so I really enjoy this.”

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