Archive for March, 2007

Supporting and Appreciating Emergency Departments

March 2, 2007

Reading our professional journals, government releases and the variety of health care reports on problems, challenges, and failures in health care, I can at times fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself or taking on a victim mentality.

After spending time on Saturday, February 24, 2007, with more than 1,400 emergency nurses at the Emergency Nurses Association meeting in Boston, I feel so much better. I saw such dedication to the health care calling, motivation to learn how to be even better leaders, and perseverance to keep striving to make a difference in health care. My flame got brighter thanks to these 1,400 difference makers.

At the session, I described something I was part of years ago that worked to improve outcomes. We had all department directors and members of the senior team spend one full shift working in the emergency department shadowing an emergency department staff member. At times working in an emergency department is similar to working at a desk at an airport. Both emergency staff and airport staff report delays, changes, and cancellations. While these are caused by other factors, the people at the desk take the brunt of others’ frustrations.

After experiencing a shift in the emergency department, many leaders went back to their own departments and fixed things to make service better for the emergency department; some leaders took ideas from the emergency department and improved their areas. All leaders left the emergency department with better relationships with emergency staff members.

Have leaders spend a shift in the emergency department and it will create better outcomes. Please let me know how it goes.

I meet many people in health care. There are many characteristics health care providers have in common. It is evident to me that health care providers are hard on themselves. One of my biggest challenges is helping health care providers be kinder to themselves. There is a lot of what’s right in health care. Never underestimate the difference you make.