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No One Washes a Rental Car!

October 24, 2011

Guest Blogger: Gaylyn Timiney RN, MS

Gaylyn is a Senior Healthcare Consultant on the Kronos team. She has more years in healthcare than she would want me to mention both at the bedside and in various management roles. Gaylyn is an invaluable resource on Nurse Staffing and Scheduling.

Gaylyn’s Thoughts:

Since the arrival of “reality TV” there are startling insights into our healthcare world.  It is through dramas like “Untold Stories of the ER” that we can actually see what happens during trauma events. We can actually watch doctors and nurses working in harmony, as a team attempts to save a life.  You see technology performing in the background. Displays of vital signs, O2 sats and other important images help to determine if the team’s efforts are indeed stabilizing the patient.

Also in the background we see personnel communicating with the OR, Radiology and Lab ordering interventions to be delivered as the doctors and nurses attempt to positively impact the outcome.  I watch with amazement, the team work, the timing, the directives being executed and the balance of life and death being played out on a gurney in a small cubicle that in the past has probably been stage to many performances, often leading to a sad 3rd act. 

I also observe the dedicated, committed professionals accountable to no other than the patient and each other.  Isn’t this why we enter the sanctum of healthcare?

Stepping back from these scenes, I am left to wonder how did this team, this especially effective team, come together?  Was there some sophisticated tool like staff scheduling software used to bring them together? Did the team participate in the schedules creation to ensure a balanced distribution of work? Was it just about numbers of shifts? Was it the luck of the draw? I don’t think it’s that simple. There’s a secret ingredient that makes a team in healthcare great. 

That secret is the same one that determines whether you’re going to wash the rental car…you have to care about the car  – “you have to own it”.  The individuals we observe in these dramas are real.  They know split second decision making.  They have to count on each other. They are prepared. They are accountable. They know what is in the balance.  They own the outcomes.

Safe staffing is an act of accountability, it’s just that simple. Let’s get back to basics.  We joined the healthcare team to help and serve others and it all begins by placing our name alongside others on a schedule.  Can we predict how any team on any shift will perform at any given time, probably not, but we still “own” that commitment to care about the patients and the team.

As I observe daily staffing practices in hospitals today struggling to find replacements resulting from high absenteeism and imbalanced schedules or I read from nursing gurus who pontificate the rights of healthcare professionals to have work life balance, I pause.  Who  “owns” this process and do we really begin each shift prepared to have a positive impact on patient outcomes?  Are we “owning” it?

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