You want staff to deliver excellent patient care so in return, they achieve excellent patient outcomes. But you know how hard this can be if staff can’t, won’t, or don’t know how to work together effectively.
If you are looking to enhance collaborative practice at your facility, begin with a process that causes staff to take a step back and truly understand what collaborative practices are about. You can initiate this process by having medical staff, nursing staff, and other professional departments, such as respiratory therapy and pharmacy, participate in a survey that asks questions such as:
1. What does the term “collaborative practice” mean to you?
2. Do you feel that by improving collaborative efforts we improve patient care?
3. What are two things you can do to improve/enhance collaborative practice?
4. What are two things other professionals can do to enhance collaborative efforts?
5. Would you be interested in being part of a team that works with administration on a project targeted to improve collaborative practices in our organization?
You can also use the survey to begin to educate staff about collaboration by giving them a question that requires them to look at the literal definition of the term. For example:
Which of the following terms are synonyms for collaboration?
Joint, group effort, two-way, relationship, mutual, cooperation, shared, teamwork
This type of exercise reminds people that collaboration is more than co-signing standing orders or serving on the same committee.
How do you create an environment of collaborative practice?
A nurse manager’s first month on the job is often a hectic time. Adjusting to a new set of responsibilities, new issues that demand your attention, and new coworkers make it hard to stay focused and productive. Still, you need to.
Make the theme of your first month “meet and listen.” Each week, take time to plan a schedule of meetings to acquaint yourself with those who are in key positions supporting you and your unit. This can include:
- Members of the unit-level management team (including the interim manager, charge nurses, educators, house-wide supervisors, staffing office clerks, etc.) in group meetings or one-on-one
- Key department directors, such as pharmacy, materials management, admitting, etc.
- Nurse managers responsible for units that work collaboratively with yours
- Medical director of the unit or a physician who frequents the unit
- Employee relations manager in human resources or the nurse recruiter
Keep these meetings to 30-45 minutes each, and use lunch or breakfast meetings as needed to expedite the scheduling process. Attending the shifts and making rounds two to three times a week to visit with patients is another way to get to know staff and begin your assessment of practice issues or system problems.
You also might want to take notes at these meetings and use a consistent format for them. This format could be initiated with questions, such as, “What’s working or not working, and what do we need to do differently?” or an open-ended question like, “What do you see as priorities for me relative to the needs of patients or staff working with me?”
How do you get acclimated to a new position?
Blogs have emerged as great tools for nurses and physicians wanting to spread healthcare information. For some, they serve as emotional outlets to share experiences with others in the field. But could they be relaying too much to the public?
A study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine examined 271 medical blogs to determine how often nurses and physicians wrote about patients, violated patient privacy, or displayed a lack of professionalism. Of the findings, 42% of blogs had content describing private interactions with patients. Seventeen percent of blogs disclosed information sufficient for patients to recognize themselves or their doctors and about 18% portrayed patients “negatively.” A few displayed pictures of patients in which they could easily be identified.
Tara Lagu, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar and an internal medicine specialist held the study, who also found 65% of the blogs were written anonymously, with the remaining blogs identifying the names of the authors. View an abstract of the study.
What are your thoughts after seeing these results?
Do you have a small space from which you can create a relaxing nook for your staff? It may be just a corner of your break room or one end of your locker room. Designate that space as your unit’s relaxing nook.You could even make up a catchy name for it:
No Crisis Zone! Radiology Rejuvination Area! My Space!
Don’t allow phone calls in the space. Ask staff if anyone has an old lazy-boy recliner they’d donate. Also, see if anyone has a magazine rack they’d like to donate. Have staff bring in magazines after they’ve read them. Or inspiring, pick-me-up books that can be read quickly, like the Chicken Soup series.
How about a poster or two for the space? A lamp? A couple of throw pillows? A CD player with earphones? A tabletop battery operated rippling water fountain? A kitchen timer so no one accidently goes over their allotted break time?
We all know we’re more productive when we take a few moments to re-group, yet so often we run from crisis to crisis and never take that opportunity. Think of our staffs, and the number of crises they manage daily. Would they benefit from a small nook designated entirely to replenishing their soul for a few moments? Would our patients benefit?
“It appears that the techniques which have the greatest motivational impact are practiced the least, even though they are easier and less expensive to use.”
– Dr. Gerald Graham, distinguished Professor of Management; Wichita State University