2014 JQS Award Nominee, JQS2014

Marsha Allen, Alegent Creighton Health


Marsha Allen deserves to be honored for excellence in patient engagement through her great work in establishing a strong shared governance structure in the areas of nursing at Alegent Creighton Health (ACH). She lead development of Practice Area Councils for numerous areas to bring together key folks from all levels (management to bedside nurses) across our multi-hospital health care system in order to improve communications, inspire each other, collaborate, innovate, and transform to bring about systems change and ultimately better care for our patients. Marsha was integral in implementing the Patient Care Bundle; 4 nursing care components to improve the patient experience.


Marsha was and is the key driving force in the organization and improvement of shared governance through development of Practice Area Councils. The Practice Area Councils (PACs) focus on system nursing practice specific to an area of expertise. To coordinate and communicate the work of the various PAC councils, as well as focus on system-wide initiatives, a System Nursing Practice Forum was developed. The purpose of the Practice Area Councils are to empower nurses at all levels to use their clinical knowledge and expertise to develop, direct and sustain their professional practice, to provide a quick and flexible method of shared decision making and problem solving, and to reduce variation in practice and processes (i.e. orientation, competencies, education). In other words, (the councils are all about) “Having the right people at the table with the authority to make decisions to improve patient care in their area of nursing practice.”

Each council has established a leadership team consisting of a staff nurse, an OD/manager and CNE or designated leader sponsor. Members of the Practice Areas are responsible to communicate council activity to campus stakeholders. The leadership from each Practice Area (CNE sponsor, OD leader, staff leader) attends the Nurse/Physician Collaboration Council for their practice area and System Nursing Practice Forum. Council activity is also communicated through monthly PAC Points, a weekly Required Clinical Reading email and the Nursing Webpage found on the ACH intranet. Each Practice Area establishes annual goals/deliverables based on the ACH Nursing Strategic Plan, the ACH Strategic Priorities, Department Performance Measures and patient care and education priorities. Marsha’s work with the Practice Area Councils has led to improved communications, collaboration, innovation, and transformations to bring about systems change.

Marsha is also credited for leading the implementation of the ACH Nursing Care Bundle. At ACH, our mission is the foundation of why we do what we do every day. It is our pledge that we will provide high quality care to the body, mind and spirit of every person. In order to live out this pledge, as nurses we believe it is imperative that the care we provide is grounded in evidence and delivered with compassion. The Nursing Practice Area Councils bundled five evidence-based nursing interventions to make up the ACH Nursing Care Bundle. The purpose is to provide high quality, patient-centered care to our patients and to improve nursing efficiency. The 5 nursing interventions are Nurse Leader Rounding, Hourly Care Rounds, Bedside Reports, Team and Hospital Huddles, and Coordinated Discharge Processes. Measurements of outcomes include safety results, quality results, experience results, and employee engagement results.


Marsha Allen has successfully strengthened the practice of shared governance throughout nursing across our organization. Development of the Practice Area Councils has created means for staff to use their clinical knowledge and expertise to develop, direct and sustain their professional practice, to provide a quick and flexible method of shared decision making and problem solving, and to reduce variation in practice and processes.

Evaluation of the Nursing Care Bundle is still underway, however we have begun to see improvements in patient experience scores when we filter them those that responded yes, a nurse leader rounded on them during their stay. Additionally, a call center has been implemented to assist with the coordinated discharge process. Huddles have also been initiated across units, hospitals, and even at a system level. Positive comments can be heard far and wide about the benefits of short huddles to touch base, create awareness and offer support.

Marsha Allen has truly been a phenomenal asset to nursing practice at ACH. We cannot thank her enough.


Jane Carmody Sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives, Alegent Creighton Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system, serving Nebraska and Southwest Iowa. Its hospitals and clinics are primary teaching sites for Creighton University's health sciences school.

Jane Carmody has 1 post(s) at EngagingPatients.org

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