Step Four: Design Your Action Plan

This step focuses on your developing the specific action items that you will have to accomplish, matched to your department's needs, to achieve the outcomes that you have previously stated. One of the most important parts of developing your action plan is to state tasks that are achievable and work incrementally toward a common goal for improvement. The outcomes you developed should give you a target at which to direct your action items.

Choosing Your Action Items Toolkit Resources Summary and Next Steps


Choosing Action Items

ENA has streamlined the process for devising and stating your action items by developing a template for the overall plan and then populating a number of sample plans with stated action items--a turnkey approach for putting together a written plan. Your responsibility is to ensure that the action items match your outcomes realistically and that your outcomes are achievable within your emergency department environment. Remember, "achievable" can encompass short and long term goals so while you want to choose actions that will show measurable progress towards making a safer work environment, you should also challenge restraints that keep you from providing the optimal environment of safety for your staff in the the long term.

For lists of action items that may apply to the outcomes that you have defined as your target, access the sample project plans and also the OSHA recommendations for:

All of these documents offer practical, cut and paste interventions to apply to your outcome achievement. Remember, too, that the OSHA recommendation for management commitment and employee involvement is a good frame of reference for devising a practical action plan.

Tips for developing the action items for your plan:

  • Start by examining your stated outcomes and define what would need to be done within your department to move towards accomplishing these goals.
  • Be cognizant of budget constraints or have a plan to work around these limitations (i.e.. don't plan a million dollar security system without stating where the money will come from).
  • Do plan to engage a variety of staff members so that all will feel they have contributed to the safety initiative.
  • Remember that you need to work within institutional policy and with administrative approval and support; build these steps into your action items.
  • Consider prioritizing your outcomes and designing action items for a few initiatives to start; choosing a few action items that meet a stated outcome quickly with visible improvement will help build cooperation and collaboration among team members and staff.
  • As outcomes are met, choose new goals and design new action items; commit to continuous improvement as part of your emergency department's culture of safety.
  • As you work towards an outcome, you may need to amend your action items as more of the details are exposed and additional actions are needed.

This last point about amending your action items once your plan is in place is important to consider. We should not be so committed to our original project plan that we are not open to modifying it to produce better results. Sometimes, regardless of the assessment and data collection process, issues emerge and needed action items become more clear as we work on identified goals. Be ready to add to your action items as needed and include the staff and administration as informed participants to validate the need for modification. Without a clear explanation of these changes, to others your project plan could look like a moving target!

In this step, you should have examined your outcomes that were previously stated and devise action items to work towards these outcomes. Your action items should be relevant to the constraints of your own department, be realistic to the time, manpower and money delegated to this project and be a task list that can show progress and produce evidence of work being done. Finally, make sure that as you complete task items, you document progress to show a process of quality improvement especially when the final tasks completed help you meet the intended outcome.

In the last step, we will discuss the most important part of making quality improvement in the area of safety and workplace violence prevention a continuous process; that is, we will discuss the re-evaluation of your department and completion or adjustment of elements of your project plan to meet the changing needs of your department

Evaluating your progress