For over 20 years ...
…I have been in healthcare. It is hard to believe that I have reached that point in my career. Seems not so long ago I was being reprimanded as a new nurse for being too loud when I worked the night shift, I know it’s hard to believe! Over that time I have seen so many changes occur, both positive and exciting. From increasing advancements with technology that utilize the use of robots to perform surgery to the conversion from the paper world to the electronic, we have come a long way.
However… in our quest to advance medicine as far as it can go we have made a major mistake along the way.
We have lost sight of the core of our fundamental Nightingale oath, compassionate care of the patient. As I write this blog I report to you that I have just returned from a conference held by the Beryl Institute. It was a conference solely dedicated to the patient experience. That is its only focus. I had so many questions after hearing the opening speaker!
Have we fallen so far that we need a conference to remind people that the patient should be the focus of our care? Are priorities so skewed that the number on the dashboard is more important than the actual patient in the bed? There, I met with and spoke to individuals from all over the world; Lebanon, Brazil, the Netherlands. Most had the same questions and shared my concerns. I was not alone.
Over 650 participants attended. They had creative titles like VP of Patient Experience and Chief Experience Officer. It didn’t seem to matter if you lived on the east coast or west coast, north or south, United States or United Kingdom. The message was the same. We are all struggling with the demands of this new healthcare and the patient experience has taken a back seat.
I am proud to say that, later in my career, I was accepted to lecture at this very conference. To be honest, I was a little nervous to get up in front of this very diverse crowd. These were not just engaged staff nurses: These were highly paid executives, CEOs, Vice Presidents and CMOs. They have the ability to make change happen. Surely they will see my lecture as being basic! My expectations for attendance were not high, but to my amazement and honor the room was filled beyond capacity… Standing rooming only. And as I spoke I saw the cues from the audience. Nodding heads and energetic answers to my questions reassured me my message was one that was needed:
In healthcare we are always looking for the next big program to help us reverse the course of falling patient volumes or sinking patient satisfaction scores when in reality the answers to our issues can be solved by going back to basics.
We have not given up. I have hope that we will no longer see patients as a score but as a human being seeking compassion. It’s the little things that we do like offer a warm blanket to a patient’s family member or walking someone to their destination that form the culture of caring. I am proud to be a nurse and even more proud to be the patient experience!