“A nurse’s job is to save your a**, not to kiss it.”
We met with a frustrated hospital system senior leadership team yesterday. They’ve complied with all of the Studer process steps. They’ve implemented the guidance provided by Press Ganey, produced a high quality new employee orientation video talking about their mission and values, used the Disney principles, the Baptist approach and various nursing consultants. The CEO meets personally with EVERY new hire. The result? Patient satisfaction scores remain flat. They are at their wit’s end.
Walking through their parking lot, the CEO saw the following bumper sticker on the car of one of his nurses: “A nurse’s job is to save your a**, not to kiss it.” As you can imagine this gave him pause. Do you think he might have an issue getting that nurse to work hard at improving the patient experience? It’s 2011. We’ve been talking about healthcare as a service industry for almost ten years now. We’ve been talking about “patient-centered” care for almost as long. CMS has made it clear that it is our job to provide high quality care in a patient-focused manner. The CEO came to a realization. While there are MANY nurses who are dedicated to patient care and would never display that bumper sticker, he probably has a few who would. No matter how many processes they put in place to improve the patient experience, he won’t make a dent if he doesn’t focus on bringing the right type of people into his organization.
“We cannot accept bringing just anyone into this hospital. I am 100% focused now on establishing clear standards of behavior, holding current employees to those standards and creating a hiring process that only lets the right people into our organization. If it takes a bit longer to fill a position, so be it. I don’t know why I didn’t think about it this way twenty years ago.”
Even the best hospitals face some of these challenges. Some have taken steps to define the behaviors. Some have added tools to help better select employees who fit the vision. Given what we are trying to accomplish, half measures and half success simply won’t suffice. Every hiring or promotion decision you make impacts your organization – positively or negatively. How confident are you that the selection decisions being made this week, today, are moving you closer to your vision? Want a patient-centered culture? Want to improve patient satisfaction scores? Take all of the obvious process steps. Check all of the boxes. That will get you part of the way there, but you won’t change your culture until you change behavior and the quickest way to do that is to begin changing the nature of your workforce.