The Rain is Coming!

March 14, 2011

Right now my wife and I are watching the show “Nature’s Most Amazing Events” and we just finished the section about the annual Pacific Salmon run.  It makes for an interesting allegory for the current employment environment.

Here it is:

Salmon are drawn by instinct to swim against the current, jump huge waterfalls, and avoid massive bears, just to achieve their mission.  Only four out of every thousand salmon make the round trip from their birth place to the ocean and back again.

It’s the challenge of a lifetime!

However, as if that wasn’t hard enough, sometimes the water levels are too low for the fish to even get to the bears, waterfalls, or heavy currents.  They get stuck before the challenge even begins.

Then the rain comes.

Just as many of the fish are starting to lose energy (and hope?), the rainy season begins and allows the fish to resume their journey onward.  They can finally begin the work they were designed for.

Sound familiar?

Many young healthcare professionals are on their way to following their dreams.  We all signed up for the challenges of dealing with difficult cases, managing ornery patients, or the emotional struggles that come with our work.

What we didn’t sign up for was the lack of water.

This economy has dried up many opportunities, and left many healthcare workers looking for work, confused by their situation, and wondering if it’s time to move on to a new career.  Today I urge you to hold on.

The Rain is Coming!

The work we seek will be here soon enough and the days of low census will be replaced with the challenge of a lifetime, caring for our fellow human beings when they need us most.

Keep your chin up.

Aaron@Biebert

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Don’t Use Vinegar

December 19, 2010

It sounds like a simple idea to be considerate when asking someone to go above and beyond (pick up extra shifts or take on an extra project).  However, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard or seen people in the world try to “attract bees” with vinegar instead of honey. 

Are you seeing stuff like this too?  (not just in movies)

Um, yeah, we’re going to need you to come in and work tomorrow.”

or how about what I call the “Leave 17 Voicemails” approach?

It just doesn’t work.  Kindness is key.

  • Ask, don’t tell.
  • Say please and thank you.
  • Show that you care.
  • Explain why you need it.
  • No means no.  If they say no, move on.  (They might say yes in the future if you don’t ruin the relationship)
  • Be pleasant.

Also, it’s important to surround yourself with caring, respectful people so that you can be caring, respectful back.  It makes for a nice situation.

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI and is the President of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare. 


Warning! Are You Cutting too Deep?

December 13, 2010

With more signs of the economy improving, now might be a good time to remember the value of our highly skilled employees.  This thought came to me when I just heard about a hospital mandating overtime for their nurses when it costs them $51/hr and they have the option of agency nurses to cover at $42/hr.  That’s a double waste; both money and spirit.

Also, let’s not forget the hospital has to pay overtime to the schedulers and managers that will scramble to coordinate and deal with the aftermath.

That doesn’t make sense to me. 

For me, it’s not just about the money (even though that’s a big one these days).  It’s about patient safety.  It’s about the long term burnout that’s happening.  It’s about reputation and retention once the economy improves.

It’s about not upsetting a highly skilled workforce right before the largest shortage of nurses and doctors in a generation.

I’m concerned about the big picture. 

The healthcare industry is looking at a shortage of about 600,000 nurses and 60,000 doctors peaking in the next 4 to 7 years.  If you have to cut costs further, be careful you don’t cut too deep.  The wound might not heal in time.

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI and is the President of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare. 


Thank You for Your Sacrifice!

April 4, 2010

Getting called in at 3:00 AM for an emergency…working double shifts when the unit is short…verbal and physical abuse from ungrateful patients…pushing yourself further and further…and further yet. 

For what?

Outsiders would say that it’s for the money, but I find that amusing.  If someone is smart enough to go through all the years of school (and get into that particular school in the first place), they are smart enough to get a very well-paying job that doesn’t have people suing them, barking at them, waking them up, or exhausting them for their entire career.  On top of that, when you take out student loan interest, taxes, and malpractice insurance, the outside world looks even better.

That’s why I believe it is a sacrifice. 

But it’s not just physicians, nurses, or other clinical people.  It’s many others in our industry, as well. 

I know CFO’s and CEO’s working till 9pm regularly to make building projects happen.  I know surgeons that leave home for the OR around 4 AM many days, get home at 6 PM, and then get called back later that day when they’re on call.  Not just for a week, but for a career. 

I know nurses covering double the normal patient loan when the unit is short, and it’s short a lot.  I know specialists that skip sleep after a night of responding to emergencies, just to make sure they get their clinic visits fit in.  I know Agents at Clear Medical Agency who have worked for days (and sometimes weeks) on little to no sleep in order to support these same people during their tough times.

I’ve seen the leadership challenges.  I’ve seen the exhaustion. 

I’ve seen the sacrifice.

For many people around the world, this time of year (Passover and Easter) is about Sacrifice.  I think it’s a great time to thank you for your sacrifice to others.  Pass it on!

For those of you who have to work on Easter.  Thank you for yet another sacrifice.  For those who get the day off, enjoy a well deserved break!

Thank you!

 

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He enjoys teaching, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.


Looking into the Eyes of the Future (of Healthcare)

March 29, 2010
This weekend, my youngest child (a one year-old son) and I spent time inserting different shaped blocks into the correct spots on one of his toys.  Half of the time my son was looking at me with this look of wonder and amazement as I showed him how to do it.  Simple stuff to me, but a big deal to my son.   

You could see it in his eyes.    

My son

 

As part of the leadership team in a healthcare organization, I see that same look from new graduates or interns I get to work with.  They know that they don’t have the experience, but they are grateful when someone shows them how to do difficult things that seem so simple to the veterans they work with.  (Big thanks to the many great preceptors and trainers out there!)    

However, with all the stress and staffing concerns in our industry, it is no wonder that we sometimes forget to remember that these rookies in our department are the future of healthcare. 

We are truly looking into the eyes of the future.   

What’s scary is that future might be more difficult than we imagine.  I’m sure the saying “Nurses eat their young” is not unique only to nursing, and with the baby boomers set to retire and healthcare reform now the law of the land, we’re going to need these unexperienced colleagues of ours to be confident, encouraged, and focused on a long-term career caring for patients.     

Unfortunately, with the economy where it’s at, finding graduates working in a hospital or clinic is not as easy as it was just a couple years ago.  Even new RN’s are having a hard time finding work in some areas that just a couple years ago were offering signing bonuses.     

I know RN’s that are volunteering to gain experience and relationships while they search and medical coders traveling across the country for their first job.  It’s crazy for high demand positions like those two (and many others) to have that sort of challenge to find work!  Especially since things were so different when they started school.    

Right now I see about 50 requests a week from new graduates with healthcare degrees looking for a place that will give them their first chance, despite the curse of the proverbial “no experience”.  With Spring graduation season coming up soon, that situation isn’t looking any brighter…    

One brighter spot is that I do see some places that are still hiring graduates if they have good attitudes and are willing to work hard, but those places are hard to find.  This was one of many reasons that we formed the Clear Medical Network to connect healthcare professionals for career guidance from their peers, as well as the fun stuff too (annual cruise, nights out, etc.).  We’re hoping to connect our industry to help share ideas and opportunities to make a difference.    

It’s not just for graduates, but that’s one group that needs it most this time of year.    

If you know anyone looking to hire new grads, we will gladly share the resumes we’re getting (for free).  Just have the hiring leader join the network or email me at Aaron@ClearMedicalSolutions.com.   Also, if you get a chance, please let me know what you think about the idea and help remind me and others of the important role that our young colleagues will play in our future.     

Have a great week!     

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About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives at Clear Medical Solutions, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He enjoys teaching, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.


The Clear Medical Network

November 23, 2009

With the rapid improvements in technology and communication, social networking is thriving and full of new potential.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are known among all people, young and old.  As the dynamics of online communication are quickly becoming more important, companies are adapting to the trends.  One example is the Clear Medical Network. 

It was formed to provide an avenue for networking, discussion, and fun among all different healthcare professionals, as well as provide opportunities through consulting projects, leadership positions, and per diem work to all its members.  Members can also find supplemental health through the network.  Many people have already joined the free network and are intrigued about the opportunities that have already come their way. 

Members are also informed of any upcoming fun events in their area.  One example is a discounted 8 day cruise next year to the Mexican Riviera!  Starting at $319/person, this is not only great fun, but it’s a great value too.

Joining the network is free and takes less than a minute.  Once registered, members are informed of different forums they can join to network with other healthcare professionals within their specific profession as well as other areas of healthcare. 

If you are interested in joining, the site is www.ClearMedicalNetwork.com.  

There really is no downside, and it’s sort of fun to see the other side of things from the perspective of Doctors, Nurses, PTs, HIM Directors, or any of the other professions that are getting involved.

Questions: What do you think of the Clear Medical Network?

About the Author: Sarah Fore is a Staff Writer with the Clear Medical Solutions Communication Team.  Her work is regularly shared on the Clear Medical Agency newsletter and the ClearHIMMatters.com blog.


Facing the Facts about Burnout

April 16, 2009

Burnout, fatigue, and emotional exhaustion are common symptoms of overworked nurses or doctors.  Everyone must experience burnout at work from time to time, but if you were a patient in a hospital, would you want that burned out worker caring for you when a mistake could seriously jeopardize your health? Releasing the Blue Butterfly

 

Sarah J. Tracy (2000) explains burnout in her article titled “Becoming a Character for Commerce,” published in Management Communication Quarterly as, “a general wearing out or alienation from the pressures of work.”  She discusses how burnout is very much a workplace issue as a result of many hours, few breaks, and often from continuous involvement with customers or supervisors.  

 

In a blog for Scientific American Mind magazine, Kate Wong writes about residents who mailed burnout related surveys to the University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals Internal Medicine Residency program, regarding burnout.  She found that out of 115 surveys, an astonishing 76 percent suffer from burnout. The authors of her study revealed that staff were at least two times more likely to provide below average patient care than those who did not report burnout.

 

While I was working for a company a couple years ago, during times of heavy workload  the managers would institute mandatory overtime.  Production may have risen some due to the overtime hours, but the managers still were not fully satisfied with the results because the morale of many employees deteriorated as they grew tired and felt overworked.  Mistakes were more often made during these times of high workload as department members would tend to cut corners on certain procedures to complete work faster.  The fatigue within the department leads to low morale among the employees and dissatisfaction in their jobs.  

 

The consequences of burnout on nurses or residents can be very similar.  Wong found that weekly medical errors were more prevalent for burned out staff, or that patients were being released early to lighten their workload.  The turnover of nurses or doctors is likely to be higher for those who are burned out as Wong found that “more than half of the burned-out residents said they were not happy with their career choice” (Wong, par. 2).

 

Thankfully, there are several methods for coping with burnout.  Newton (1995) discusses both individual approaches, as well as organizational methods for handling burnout in his book, Managing stress: Emotion and power at work.  An employee assistance program is a method that involves counseling for the staff but Newton explains that this is not as common as SMT, or Stress Management Training.  

 

Essentially, the training offers way for employees to work through or manage their stress levels.  Problem-based coping is a method where individuals can focus on the causes of their stress to cope with the problems of burnout.  But, Newton explains that an environment of social support is often the most successful means of coping with burnout.

 

Christina Maslach is also known well for her studies on burnout. She is the author of the Maslach Burnout Inventory, which is said to measure levels of burnout.  She has written several books on the subject from dealing with burnout, to analyzing occurrences.  If you can’t get your hands on her research, a comprehensive test can be found on mindtools.com, in order to determine ones’ level of burnout.  Their test can be downloaded and used with Microsoft Excel.

 

All of my findings showed evidence that avoiding burnout when possible is beneficial to all parties. Patients will be better cared for and the medical personnel will feel less stressed. Hospitals and medical practices would benefit greatly from burnout avoidance because morale will be heightened, resulting in better performance from nurses and a higher production rate. Despite the cliché, it may not be better to burnout than to fade away.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Newton, T.  Managing Stress: Emotion and Power at Work.  Thousand Oaks, CA, 1995.

 

Tracy, Sarah J.  “Becoming a Character for Commerce.”  Management Communication Quarterly  Vol. 14, No. 1 2000: 90-128. 

 

UC Berkeley, Psychology Department.  Christina Maslach, Professor.  August.  2005. <http://psychology.berkeley.edu/faculty/profiles/cmaslach&gt;.

 

Wong, Kate.  “Medical Resident Burnout May Compromise Patient Care.”  Scientific American Mind March 5.  2002.  <http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=medical-resident-burnout&gt;.

 

About The Author:

Daniel Jania is a Staff Writer with the Clear Medical Solutions Communication Team. His work is regularly shared on the Clear Medical Agency newsletter, ClearManagementMatters.com and the ClearNursingMatters.com blog.


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