Day in and day out we come to work with the very best of intentions, but often busy schedules and growing piles of responsibilities overshadow those good intentions. It may not take long to find that you’re showing up to work with your head down, perhaps doing your best just to make it through the day and check off as many of the “boxes” as humanly possible. The ability to care for others should give us great personal rewards, but this task driven mentality can take the reward out of what we do.
Recently our hospital has started offering some new training opportunities to help faculty and staff work and communicate more effectively and efficiently with our patients, their families, and each other. The goal of these trainings is to learn ways to do our work in a more thoughtful and engaging way, a way in which our patients feel that they are the center of our focus. This engagement allows us to create deeper connections with patients and co-workers all while saving time and cutting down on our own stress.
I had the opportunity to attend the C3 (Compassionate, Connected Care) training. As the title suggests, the training is geared toward intentional, thoughtful, and “present in the moment” communication. Taking the time to listen, acknowledge, and empathize with those around us helps build a positive rapport. For our patients it can also mitigate unnecessary suffering. On the outside this concept can sound strenuous, but the content provided in this training was simple, user-friendly, and evidence based. Small changes in how you position yourself in relation to those around you (heart to heart), and how you phrase questions showing empathy and compassion, can completely change the course of an interaction. I find myself using the tips and gestures at both work and home. At their core the concepts are not rocket science but have made a huge impact on my day to day interactions nonetheless.
“Having this tool leads to better patient care and driven purpose with each units team staff.”
This summer a pilot workshop provided by the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare (AACH), has been offered to a number of our providers. The objective of the workshop is to build better relationships with our patients while communicating more effectively using specific tools and techniques. I will be the first to admit that taking a day out of my already busy schedule for another training was concerning. I felt like I generally make a connection with my patients. But, if I am to ask others to go do this, I felt that I must as well. I’ve been a physician for 25 years and thought it would not be possible to teach this “old dog new tricks.” Of course, they proved me wrong. Just by incorporating a few of the communication tools in clinic, I felt my day went much smoother, and my patients felt heard. And you can imagine just how thrilled I was to receive this feedback from one of our orthopedic surgeons, who also recently attended this training:
“Thanks Teri for setting this awesome workshop up. My clinics today went like a miracle using the strategies I got from the workshop. Residents gave me comments on how well, and how quickly, I built patient rapport. It was obviously a worthwhile full day. A patient who had earlier gotten into an altercation with an outside provider was smiling and laughing with us. In addition I got done with clinic a full hour earlier than usual.” —Phinit Phisitkul, MD
I am very hopeful that others will at least have some of the impact that Dr. Phisitkul had!
In addition to workshops on communication, Dr. Hightower and her team are offering Epic Thrive training. These training sessions are focused on tips and tricks to using our EMR more proficiently. The feedback from these has been great:
“Wish I had learned this years ago.”
“These skills should be taught to each and every provider. It could make the difference between burnout, depressions, or having a manageable job.”
I know you are very busy, and I want to tell you again, that I greatly appreciate your daily hard work to make this a high quality, safe hospital where our patients get care delivered by thoughtful compassionate people every day. Change can be daunting, but if done with intention it can bring about positive effects in our day to day lives. Change and continuous improvement can improve the quality of care we provide to our patients and the quality of life we experience at work and home. I truly believe that our patients deserve the best quality we have to offer—care we would wish for our loved ones—and our team, you and I, deserve a vibrant, effective, satisfying work place.
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