Sometimes it can seem like we are working on different planets. We seem to talk different languages. We seem to have different perspectives about what departments should be doing with our patient. People seem disconnected. Does my patient see and feel the disconnect too? How can I get them to understand what I need and how important it is?
This month’s challenge is called, “3 Things To Know About Me”.
Do you ever get frustrated because you think that person who brought that patient to your unit didn’t do as much as you expected them to before they brought the patient to you? When you called a department to arrange a patient activity or test, did they not seem to understand what you were needing, or it’s urgency? When you interacted with another department or another employee or colleague, did it seem like they weren’t paying attention or didn’t care for what you were talking about?
It can be immensely frustrating … not only feeling a lack of communication, but also a diminished sense of trust in the other department.
And, for right now… let’s put all of that into a basket and set it aside… just for a minute. We’ll come back to it.
And, now, let’s turn around and take a new perspective on the whole thing.
How much do you know about them? How much do you know about the department they work in?
How much do you know about how the other departments or colleagues work? Do you understand the purpose of that department the same way they see their purpose?
Does that other department see their relationship to your patient care in the same way you do?
I used to be very frustrated with the relationship between ICU and the Emergency Room.
It used to seem to me that they started interventions on high acuity patients, but never did any follow up on the intervention before they brought the patient to the ICU. I always had a lot more questions for their report than they had information for me. It was very frustrating and really put some stumbling blocks in my relationship with my ER nursing colleagues.
Then I was given the opportunity to visit some neighboring departments and I devised this exercise. It changed my entire perspective…
The original intent of the visits was to just meet people in the different departments that interacted with my ICU. I was to visit the OR, PACU, Cardiac Cath Lab and the ER.
However, given the nature of my demeanor already, I decided to make it more of a true networking exercise and not just a superficial visit. In my business networking meetings, everyone got a chance to introduce themselves and answer the one question that was poised by the host for that morning. So I was going to do the same!
So I went visiting with these 3 questions…
- What was the nature of this department? The purpose. What kinds of procedures were done there?
- Introductions. I introduced myself. How long I had been in ICU. How long I had been a nurse. How long I had been in this ICU. And I asked the same questions of the person who was leading me around and, anyone else I met.
- What are 3 things that you want me to know about your department’s patient care in relation to our working together?
The response was amazing!
Two surprising things happened. And even though I went with my 3 questions and my intent was networking… I knew I was going with a doubtful attitude… I was happily surprised.
It’s almost like when you go to a new school or start a job, and you see the dynamics of the popular ones, the tough ones and the bullies. And you stand apart, and watch the dynamic from afar, but don’t get involved. Then, surprisingly, the next thing you know… the one you thought was so tough… comes over and introduces themselves to you and welcomes you to the new place. Huh??
“I have these questions I need to ask you for my visit.”. And I had my notes in my hand.
And then… we just started talking! The 3 questions were the best ice-breakers! In business, I knew the best , in way to take the stress off a conversation was just to ask an open question and let the other person do the talking! But I had never thought of that principle in such specific terms, in my nursing career.
Turns out, people are people… wherever they are… and they love to talk about themselves and what they do!
Well, the end of the story is… It turned out great! I met more people then I ever had just in my little corner in the ICU. I knew a few things about them. I remembered names! [A big thing for my old, gray self!] And, I learned that each department has specific purposes, goals and strategies for patient care. And they are not the same. The ER’s strategy is to quickly stabilize and move… most likely to us in the ICU. Then ICU finishes the stabilization process and then starts to “put all the clinical pie pieces together”. [I like to look at a patient’s care like a pie… each slice has a different part. And my assessment will run fluidly through all of it throughout my shift.]
I now understood the roles, purposes and strategies of both of our departments. And I had made some better colleague bonding… and remembered their names! Woo hoo! It was a really good day!
And… THAT was the second thing… MY day turned out great! With my visit, I had increased my own understanding of our two departments, our roles, met some people, bonded a little with neighboring departments… and came back from the visit excited and energized [which was not the way I went into it!]!
We can work better together if we can talk about ‘3 Things To Know About Me’ and ‘3 Things for Me To Know About You’!
So… Nightingales… Here is your Challenge … PRINT OUT this “Clinical Challenge: 3 Things To Know About Me” handout
Now, go! Meet your neighbors! Have fun! Turn a rival into a friend and colleague! Nurses are the best networkers!
Have a great month, Nightingales!