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.


11 Responses to “Supporting and Appreciating Emergency Departments”

  1. Quint, I am the interim director of our 14-bed Emergency Department for about 5 weeks now. I am normally the Medical/Surgical Director and try not to interact with the ED at all if possible. Two weeks ago, I had problems staffing the ED, so I put on scrubs and jumped in even though I have not done a lot of active patient care for several years. It was the best eye-opener I have ever had! I now have a much better understanding of their challenges and have established a better relationship between both the ED and the Med/Surg areas. Thanks for your comments which are so timely for me and my staff.

  2. Debra Browning Says:

    This principle of walking in someone else’s shoes should not be limited to the ED. In my opinion, it can work wonders if applied in various departments.

    There have been several “Healthcare Overview” classes offered here at West Georgia Health System and in attending one of those sessions, I was amazed to learn of some of the unnecessary challenges other staff members face on a daily basis; primarily due to their interaction, or might I say lack of proper interaction from other staff members.

    There is a phenomenal lesson for each of us to learn, if we can simply recognize that most areas are indeed intertwined. The strength of the whole depends on the the support and cooperation of each individual. What better way to gain this recognition than job shadowing. A first-hand view of obstacles that others face can often open our own creative juices to solutions.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  3. Kurt Larson Says:

    Thanks for the information. I have been trying to get people to understand the importance of ERs and pre-hospital providers for a long time. The mind set is for excellence, the work ethic is for excellence, yet all that gets down played if we don’t follow some simple procedures to help our patients feel better about us and them.

    I appreciate this opportunity to reinforce what I am trying, this gives me hope that someone will be listening, improving communications between “us and them”. Keep up the good work.

  4. Jodi Phillips Says:

    Thank you so much for your comments. This is something we have been inviting others to do for years but very few have taken us up on it. We can all learn from walking in another’s shoes because we all face unique challenges. As ED nurses we are trained to think of the worst case scenario and in spite of the fact that we ARE DIFFERENCE MAKERS, the negative is often emphasized. I so appreciate your outlook and your focus on what is right and going well. Please keep doing what you do to help all of us be the best we can be for our patients.

  5. Robert Pyle Says:

    In the most simplistic analysis, I think “victim’s mentality” is a result of one’s being, or persceiving to be,
    UNAPPRECIATED. Recognition and Reward are sure prescriptions for cure. You are a master of verbal R&R in your teaching, and all your audiences benefit greatly
    during the session and for a long time after!
    Thank you, Quint! Robert

  6. Deborah Liable Says:

    I work in an innovative 32 bed ER outside of Phoenix, Az. I would embrace the change to know “we” meaning nurses stop looking @ who has it the worst! Remember, “We” are all on the same side trying to do our best for the patient.
    Each patient takes a stroll thru the healthcare system when they arrive @ any hospital. For us, as healthcare professionals to demonstrate constant collaboration within all the departments would ease the transition for the patient thru each step of their stroll. Imagine the amount of energy directed toward better outcomes. This could define a new level of “best practice”.
    Thank you for your guidance.

  7. Cindy Saxon Says:

    Thank you for sharing your time and experience with us at the ENA Leadership Conference. Recognition and Reward for the little things a person does everyday means so much. Keep spreading the good news.

  8. Jeanne Schuppe Says:

    I found your talk at the ENA conference excellent and very inspirational! I am interested in learning more about the victim mentality as I feel it is heavy in the department that I manage. I like the idea “what you permit, you promote”. I will certainly be looking at things differently now! I got some great ideas and hope to get even more! Thank you!

  9. I have been the manager of a busy 42 bed Emergency Dept. for MANY years. In that time it seems I have frequently found myself in the position of defending, rationalizing, or apologizing for the actions of the Emergency Department (though they are all also very appreciative of our care when they or their families need our services). It seems we insult everyone when we get busy and push the upper limits of not only ourselves, but everyone else around us. At least we are equal opportunist in our demands. I have come to accept that we are a breed of our own. We have no “cap” for our bottle. Regardless of what is going on…not the death of a child, the trauma of a family, staff shortages,or the agony of losing one of our own. The show must go on and few can step in and keep the show going. So, I don’t think I will ever expect others to understand what our world is like. But then again, that is why we do it and continue to do it….because we are a breed of our own.

  10. Kris Powell Says:

    Quint – Thank you for presenting your session at the ENA Leadership Conference in Boston. Your comments were inspiring and reinvigorating.

  11. Anne Neethling Says:

    Hi, thank you for the comments. When I was manager of 2 in patient units I asked upper management to come visit on the units and follow someone around for 30 minutes. Nurses, NACs, housekeeping, whichever. It never happened. Upper management was always too busy with meetings and running the place. Once the then CEO walked through one of the units with the CEO of another hospital, to show him around. He never even greeted the nurses or doctors on the floor. I was so taken aback that I wrote a letter, because I could not anymore up-round on the leaders of the organization if they did not even acknowledge my staff. I now work aas ER nurse and the upper management is still as far removed as ever. It takes a team of very open minded and pro-active leaders to make the frontline people feel appreciated and valued. Keep up the encouragement. Just doing all the “Studer” things because they are required does not change things. The heart needs to be in it.
    Thanks, Anne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: