Editorial | Nursing

It is no secret that ECU Health’s mission to improve the health and well-being of the region is directly tied to the success of recruiting the best providers, nurses and care teams. The ongoing labor shortage makes it more important than ever to have a compelling reputation that attracts a talented workforce committed to eastern North Carolina.

Headshot of Trish Baise

Trish Baise, ECU Health Chief Nursing Executive

During my first year at ECU Health as chief nursing executive, my team and I set out to gain a deep understanding of ECU Health nursing. The goal was to highlight and leverage the incredible strengths while also identifying the work needed to create and sustain a culture of nursing excellence. Our commitment is to ensure the organization fosters an environment where nurses can flourish, grow professionally and have a meaningful nursing experience while providing safe and highly reliable human-centered care.

This challenging work has already resulted in important achievements that affirm our standing as a world-class nursing organization. Most recently, ECU Health Medical Center achieved Magnet recognition – the highest national honor for exemplary nursing practice – for the third consecutive time, highlighting our commitment to creating a nursing ecosystem that embodies excellence. Less than 10% of hospitals in the United States have Magnet designation and ECU Health Medical Center is one of only eleven in North Carolina.
This achievement is the celebration of our collaborative work, but it is not the destination. We are just beginning our efforts to propel nursing at ECU Health to unprecedented heights, making it adaptable to the ever-changing health care industry.

The Path Forward for ECU Health Nursing

We are taking bold steps forward. At ECU Health, we are not just reacting to the future of nursing, we are defining it. We are co-designing an empowering environment for our nurses to innovate and excel, enhancing patient care, and setting a new standard for nursing excellence in rural health and beyond.

At the core of this work is an inclusive approach to re-imagining and elevating nursing at ECU Health we have named Advancing Nursing Practice and Excellence (APEX). It began as a broad research project, capturing the voices of our nurses across the entire health system to ensure we had a deep understanding and appreciation for our environment. We are using the information gained during this research to inform our nursing strategic plan and design the work ahead, ensuring our nurses are a part of it every step of the way.

APEX will be the model for nursing excellence, innovation, research and education in rural health and beyond. Unifying leadership, technology and evidence-based practices, APEX exemplifies the future of human-centered care.

Investing in Future Nurses

In addition to our APEX work, we are committed to strong partnerships and innovative collaborations alongside our academic partners in the region including East Carolina University and local community colleges to offer training programs for the next generation of health care professionals. Our nationally accredited Nurse Residency Program empowers graduate nurses to select from various clinical areas, aligning with their professional aspirations. Our structured, evidence-based program pairs new nurses with experienced mentors, fostering skill refinement and growth. Upon completion, participants gain practical experience, enhance critical thinking, and transition confidently into their nursing careers.

What This Means for Our Communities

Through our APEX work, ECU Health is cultivating a thriving nursing environment empowered and engaged to lead innovations that support improved quality of patient care and enhanced patient experience for those across our region. Together, with our nurses, we will be publishing our work – sharing the unprecedented work taking place in eastern North Carolina as we create the national model for rural health nursing excellence.

Our Magnet recognition is a reminder of ECU Health’s long-standing legacy of nursing excellence, and we are proud to propel that legacy into the future with these continued efforts. Additionally, our nurse residency program will play a vital role in training the next generation of nurses. By contributing to a healthier, more resilient community with improved health outcomes, we embody the state motto of North Carolina,“Esse quam videri,” which means “To be, rather than to seem.” This marks only the beginning of an incredible journey of continuous improvement and innovation for ECU Health. I take immense pride in our new strategic direction for nursing and feel privileged to collaborate with the best nurses in the country.