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What am I doing here? Tips for being accountable in meetings

We’ve all been in meetings where everyone nodded and appeared to agree to something, but a few months later, nothing had changed. Why does that happen?

Because all they’ve agreed to is that they’ve come up with a good idea.

No one committed to a specific plan to make that good idea happen. The meeting organizer most likely didn’t set proper expectations and didn’t ask for specific, measurable commitments. The people attended the meeting, but didn’t have enough context to actively participate. They didn’t have the tools to make a commitment to action, and to hold themselves accountable for real results in a few weeks or a few months.

Great meetings that result in action, improvement, or resolutions are a joy to attend.

The next time you’re invited to a meeting, follow these suggestions so you’re prepared to be engaged and contribute rather than sitting for an hour as a passive participant. If the invitation didn’t explain the purpose of the meeting, if it included only a sketchy agenda, or if it didn’t include one at all, ask the organizer the questions in the following table prior to or early in the meeting.

Meeting questionsAgreeing to a good idea
just isn’t good enough.

Try using these questions to create a structure for great meetings that result in a better understanding, clarity of purpose, and positive outcomes.

 

 

 

 

Note: I’ll have the table as a download for you in a few days. Look for a link in a future blog post to share the tips with your colleagues!


Excerpted from Team-Building Handbook: Accountability Strategies for Nurses and Accountability in Nursing, both by Eileen Lavin Dohmann, RN, MBA, NEA-BC, and published by HCPro.

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Emergency preparation in the face of a hurricane

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Patient Safety Monitor blog.

The anticipated impact of Hurricane Sandy undoubtedly led many hospitals on the east coast to reevaluate their emergency preparations, and now that the storm has hit, facilities will keep patient safety a priority in the aftermath. It is no small feat to assess the risks associated with a major natural disaster, from loss of power to compromised infrastructures and depletion of essential supplies. In addition to keeping existing patients safe, hospitals must also consider the possibility of an influx of new patients if the storm wreaks havoc elsewhere in the community. It is one thing to have disaster recovery plans sitting in a file somewhere, but another thing entirely to put those plans into action.

Healthcare Finance News highlighted the extensive preparations undertaken by Hackensack University Medical Center (Hackensack, N.J.) in advance of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival, noting that the hospital stockpiled medical supplies and medications, increased food and water supplies, and backed up essential equipment by generator. The hospital also deployed mobile satellite emergency vehicles to service the community. Each vehicle contains seven critical care beds with monitor-defibrillator capability, a portable digital X-ray unit, telemedicine capability, and a full functional mobile emergency department consisting of physicians, nurses, and operations personnel.  As demonstrated in Hackensack’s preparations, even the smallest details must be considered to ensure patient safety in the event of an emergency.

Sometimes even the best preparations can’t match the power of a natural disaster, and a hospital is forced to evacuate, as was the case with NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Although emergency generators kicked in, 90% of the hospital’s power went out and the hospital’s basement and lower floors filled with more than 10 feet of water. Approximately 1,000 physicians, nurses, residents, and medical students worked alongside firefighters and police officers to evacuate patients by the light of flashlights. Nurses carried several newborns down nine flights of stairs while performing manual respiration, since the respirators the newborns were on had stopped working in the power outage.

Hopefully the extensive preparations that many hospitals took will prove successful in the face of Hurricane Sandy. Even without the threat of a monster storm, hospitals are wise to review emergency plans and perform risk assessments on a regular basis; patients’ lives depend upon it.

Are you aware of your organization’s emergency procedures? How often do you review those procedures? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

When disrespect becomes a safety issue

A dysfunctional culture rooted in widespread disrespect is a significant barrier to patient safety, and affects everyone in a healthcare organization, according to a pair of papers published in the journal Academic Medicine earlier this year. The papers’ authors identified six broad categories of disrespectful behavior, including degrading treatment of nurses, residents, and students, passive-aggressive behavior, and dismissive treatment of patients. Other behaviors included disrespect for system-wide policies and processes, disruptive behavior, and passive disrespect. The authors concluded that such behavior prohibits teamwork and undermines morale, which in turn threatens patient safety.

Most, if not all, organizations have at least one practitioner who seems intent on making everyone else miserable. While these disruptive practitioners may only be a small percent of the people working in a hospital or other healthcare facility, their behaviors and the influence of their attitudes can have much larger implications, as the authors of the papers point out. Nurses are particularly at risk for taking the brunt of a physician’s abuse; in several recent studies, more than 90% of nurses reported experiencing verbal abuse.

The second of the two papers focuses on creating a culture of respect. The paper’s authors call on an organizations leader, specifically the CEO, to initiate changes within an organization. However, anyone in a leadership position could address the need for change and begin working towards a cultural shift. The paper recommends five major tasks: motivate and inspire, establish preconditions for a culture of respect, lead the establishment of policies regarding disrespectful behavior, facilitate frontline worker engagement, and create a learning environment for resident and students. By recognizing that there is an issue with disruptive behavior and taking steps to eliminate those behaviors from your organization, you can begin to move towards a culture that is respectful and safe.

How has your organization addressed disruptive behavior in the past? Leave a comment and let us know!

General Test-Taking Guidelines

Successful test-taking is a learnable skill. Some people freeze up when faced with taking a test and find themselves forgetting facts that they knew well only hours before the exam. Others become physically ill or very nervous. However, there are specific strategies for taking tests, which sometimes depends on the nature of the test themselves. There are also general strategies for preparing tests. These often pertain to ensuring learners’ general health and well-being.

The following are some general strategies to suggest to nursing students and staff members to avoid test panic and to do their best on examinations: [more]

Encourage staff to work and play together

Nurses of different generations are bound to hold different values, beliefs, and interests. For effective communication in and outside your unit, you must increase staffs’ understanding of these differences. Here are some suggestions to get staff talking and bonding: [more]

‘Polling’ for collaborative practice

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?

Team building idea!

This is a quick idea you can implement either at the beginning or the end of a staff meeting. The purpose if two-fold: To provide opportunity for staff to identify unit concerns they’d like to see addressed, and To help staff think outside the box for possible solutions.

You Need:
A piece of paper and a pen for each person; a small basket.

What To Do:
1)
Ask each staff member to write a unit problem, issue or concern they’d like help to solve (you may need to describe an acceptable concern that can be addressed by staff).
2) Staff then folds their paper and drops it in the basket.
3) Ask one person to choose a folded paper. Without reading it, ask him/her to hand the paper to someone else.
4) The recipient of the folded paper selects 2 peers with whom he/she would like to work.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until everyone is on a problem-solving team.
6) Allow each team 5 – 10 minutes to compile ideas, suggestions or a soltution for the problem on their paper.
7) Each team has 1 minute to read the problem and describe their intended solution.

To Discuss:
1) Timeline for implementation of the solution(s).
2) Why don’t we think to ask each other for help more often?
3) How can we encourage each other to ask for help when it’s needed?
4) What should we do with the folded papers we didn’t get to today?

A Quote To Ponder:
“Forget about all the reasons why something may not work. You only need to find one good reason why it will.”
~ Dr. Robert Anthony, PhD.

Build an engaged team!

If asked, we’d all agree that we want to manage an enthusiastic and engaged team! That’s a tall order to fill, but it isn’t impossible. Here are a couple of quick-fire ideas to get started towards fostering engagement:

Try to identify one learning opportunity for each of your staff.
This doean’t mean that everyone has to attend an expen$ive conference. How about cross-training, one additional departmental responsibility, or a self-study project? A primary characteristic of engaged employees is the feeling of being challenged.

Offer 5 times more praise than correction.
Admittedly, this can be a challenge when considering a low achieving performer. Try to take note of any incremental progress, demonstration of positive behaviors or even a wonderful sense of humor that enables his/her peers to have a few minutes of stress relief!

What ideas do YOU use to foster engagement?

A great idea for teambuilding!

Purchase a puzzle large enough for each staff member to have a piece. Give each one a piece of the puzzle (during a staff meeting, in their mailbox, etc.). Explain that you need everyone’s participation to make the team fit together. Have a designated place for staff to begin working the puzzle until it’s completed.

Kick It Up A Notch: Leave a few pieces out, but give them to ancillary staff (RT, PT, CM, etc.). After a time of having “holes” in the finished picture, ask the other disciplines to fit their pieces into the picture. You could even have someone glue the puzzle and ask engineering to hang it–as a reminder that we cannot work together without everyone’s input.

2 GREAT QUOTES:
“Whoever does not love his work cannot hope that it will please others.” (unknown)

“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” (John Maxwell)