Use star’ system to raise nursing morale in the ED

What is likely to be a more powerful morale booster than a pat on the back from your manager? A sincere compliment from a colleague.

At Lafayette (LA) General Medical Center, a "stars" reward program allows any staff member to compliment another for a job well done with a written note, called a stargram, with copies given to the staff member and his or her manager. This generates a point for the receiving staff member, who is given a reward after five "stargram" points are received.

"This allows the staff to recognize each other vs. just recognition by management," says Vernon Craig Meche, RN, BSN, CEN, an ED nurse at the facility.

Five stargram points earns a gift

At a staff meeting, nurses who have received five stargram points are presented with items such as a basket of sweet treats, with no gift costing more than $50 due to a policy prohibiting employees from receiving gifts of more than $50 value.

ED nurses receive points for actions such as picking up extra time when needed, staying after the end of a shift to help with a patient, or receiving a compliment on the patient satisfaction survey. The stargrams also are given for "extras" such as wheeling a patient out to the parking lot in bad weather, paying for a patient’s ride home, or watching a patient’s children while they are undergoing procedures.

"Any going above or beyond the call of duty may be judged as a point toward a reward," says Meche. "This keeps all staff working toward practicing quality nursing."

[Editor’s note: For more information, contact Vernon Craig Meche, RN, BSN, CEN, Emergency Department, Lafayette General Medical Center, 1214 Coolidge, Lafayette, LA 70505. Telephone: (337) 289-7183. Fax: (337) 289-7172. E-mail:]