Blog Posts

Sabrina Griffin

Battling Holiday Burnout: Follow Your Own Advice

Posted on Wed, Dec 14, 2016
Battling Holiday Burnout: Follow Your Own Advice

By Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN

As we prepare for the holiday season followed by a New Year and New Administration, how do we embrace this festive time of year that will most certainly be followed by massive change, when we are already too exhausted to just take a breath?

Lead from your values. No matter what changes in leadership, we as healthcare providers are going to think, plan and do what is best for our biggest priority, our patients. I know what you're thinking: "I'm exhausted and feel like I'm reaching the burnout zone." Well, remember your oath to "Do No Harm." That statement applies to our patients and to ourselves.

This season of new beginnings and resolutions is a great time for a quick self assessment:

  • How are you doing physically? Emotionally?
  • Share your findings with someone you love and trust.
  • Prescribe yourself treatment as if you are the patient:
    • Allow time for rest and recreation.
    • Balance your life: spend time with the people that you love.
    • Have fun.
    • Explore your creative side.
    • Unplug daily.
    • Sleep at least eight hours.
    • Eat healthfully.
    • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
    • Spend time alone each day to slow your mind and calm your body.

I love lists. I've been making lists my entire life - on napkins, sticky notes, in digital organizers. I want to leave you with one of my favorite "to do" lists:
  •     Plan purposefully
  •     Prepare prayerfully
  •     Proceed positively
  •     Pursue persistently

I appreciate everything you do for our patients and the communities we serve. I hope you enjoy some quiet time with family and friends during the holiday season. Remember to take time for yourself and follow your own care plan this season.

Sabrina Griffin, RN

Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN, is a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for EmCare.


10 Tips for Delivering Better Presentations

Posted on Wed, Jun 15, 2016
10 Tips for Delivering Better Presentations

By Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN, CEN

We’ve all sat through a rambling, incoherent presentation that lacked focus and didn’t keep listeners’ attention. The key to getting – and keeping – your audience riveted is simple: Preparation.

For a short presentation that part of a longer meeting, Dale Carnegie knew best. The 90-second “elevator pitch” is an essential communication tool.

The standard format for a 90-second presentation includes:

  • Introduce yourself - Even though “everyone knows you,” unless you are meeting with this same group every day, they have all slept since your last meeting, and it’s nice not to keep people guessing. It’s especially valuable for phone conferences. Voices are not as recognizable as faces.
  • Key Message - Complete this sentence: I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention that <fill in the blank>.
  • Action - Explain the actionable part of the message. Phrases to use may include: “Here’s how we resolved it…,” “The following change is in process/being considered,” “This project is scheduled to launch…,” “We are looking for help on the solution. If you have any ideas, could we set some time to talk about them?”
  • Identify the take-away – “If you leave with nothing else from my presentation today, just know this…” or “What’s really crucial for you to understand is …”
  • Thank you and summary – “Thank you for your interest in my <repeat key message point>.”

For longer presentations or to refine your elevator pitch, here are a few other quick tips for adding polish:
  • Assume your audience will be interested. Don’t assume they already know what you are sharing.
  • Connect with each person, but limit the sidebar conversations. Let this presentation be for everyone.
  • Speak slowly and clearly… and don’t use jargon. Although people may work in your same office, they may not know your acronyms.
  • Be a storyteller. People have learned from parables for thousands of years. Sharing a message through the use of a chart, a sample or some other visual can paint a picture in the mind of the listener and improve the understanding of the message.
  • Use visuals. Remember the wonder of “show and tell?” Although we are no longer six years old, we are still by nature visual learners. If you can bring something to show online (or email something in advance), you can get the benefit of the extra thousand words a picture paints.

With some preparation, descriptive language and “show and tell” visuals, you’ll be able to get your point across and keep your colleagues captivated.

Sabrina Griffin

Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN, CEN, is the Divisional Director of Clinical Services in EmCare’s Alliance Group.


A Nurse Remembers 30 Years of Caring

Posted on Wed, May 11, 2016
A Nurse Remembers 30 Years of Caring

By Sabrina Griffin, BSN

I have a plaque my mother gave me when I graduated from nursing school that says, “Nursing is the gentle art of caring.” I believe that’s been my mantra throughout my career.

It all started when I was a premed student working at a hospital as a nurse assistant on weekends and holidays. This particular weekend I was assigned to the pediatric floor. We had a tragic patient, a 6-year-old boy who had survived a home invasion with only a laceration across his neck. His mother was not so lucky; she was killed protecting her son. Because patients stayed in the hospital longer 30 years ago when this happened, the child was still in the hospital a week later when it was time to remove the stitches from his neck. A bunch of strangers walked into this child’s room armed with scissors and tweezers, going for his neck … of course he freaked out! We retreated to the nursing station to regroup. The decision was made to sedate him first. The doctor wrote the order and off he went. The nurse reassured the child and stayed with him while the medication was given and he drifted to sleep. The doctor then came back and removed the stitches.

After that experience, I changed my mind and applied to the nursing program. I realized my passion was with the hands-on care of patients rather than writing orders and diagnosing patients. 30 years later, this has been an incredible career and I have new, wonderful experiences every day. I’ve had the honor of sharing someone’s first day of life and, just as important, someone’s last. I’ve also been a patient and have received nursing care, bringing my career full circle.

A Look Back

I’ve been thinking back on my career and how incredible the last 30 years have been. How amazing to have been a nurse during this time of rapid computer and technology advances. When I first started nursing there were no cell phones; we used the intercom system to find one another. If a patient needed a croup tent, we made it ourselves. We had a metal trough we hooked to the bed, filled it with ice and put a clear plastic covering over the bed.

The doctors and nurses all gathered around the chart rack and we hand wrote everything in the chart. As a young nurse I learned a lot as the doctor discussed patients with the head nurse. I remember wearing my hat, white hose and shoes. How the uniform has changed! We even smoked at the nurses’ station!

I then transferred from pediatrics to emergency care, and that is where my passion ignited. I loved the “knife and gun club,” as it was called. The adrenaline rush and never knowing what the next patient would be. I loved trauma. My favorite was “car codes,” as we called it. That’s when a gunshot victim arrived in a private car unconscious in the back seat. We mixed our own IV bags, poured medication from large, communal bottles, put plaster casts on patients, and drew labs and blood gases.

I’ve been part of some great teams that saved lives, brought some back from the dead and, sadly, watched some slip through our hands. I have seen the destruction of a body from drugs and neglect. And I’ve seen babies appear when there was no pregnancy. I left emergency nursing for five years and had the honor to work with hospice. That’s where I saw the full circle of life. I went from saving every life we could to making every death the best it could be. “The art of caring” may be a warm hug or a tough conversation about why we’re not administering any more narcotics; both are very caring activities.

I now help facilities become more efficient and make the patient experience the best it can be. I love my job now as much as I did 30 years ago. I am blessed to be a nurse.


Sabrina Griffin, BSN, is a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for EmCare.


12 Tips for Better Meetings – And Happier Attendees

Posted on Wed, Apr 20, 2016
12 Tips for Better Meetings – And Happier Attendees

By Sabrina Griffin, RN

This article is Part 1 of a two-part series.

For leaders, a lot of the work you do is accomplished in meetings. But, for many us, planning for meetings is close to last on our list of things to do. Unfortunately, a poor process for arranging, conducting and using meetings can result in a significant waste of time and effort.

So, how do we elevate the effectiveness of our meetings? As someone who relies on lean for process improvement in the hospital setting, I immediately looked to the principles and tools of lean to help improve my process for meetings. Applying lean methodologies such as value-stream mapping and 5S has helped me identify what brings value to meetings and how to standardize meetings so that they run most efficiently. Here are a few tips to help you meet smarter, not longer.

To make the process of conducting lean meetings easier to remember, I have developed the 12 Ps or 12 Principles for Ensuring Efficient Meetings:

Lean Meetings Checklist 

1. Purpose.

Even parties have a purpose. Why do you need to gather multiple people together for concurrent thought, interaction and communication? How is this going to be more effective than a survey, email, bulletin or another method of communication? What do you need to achieve that can’t be achieved without meeting? How would you achieve this if you were not able to have a meeting?

You can eliminate the waste of unproductive, non-priority meetings with this one easy word: No. Ok, so it’s not always easy to say. The ability to say “no” at the right time for the right reasons (and in the right way) is one of the most powerful drivers of efficiency. If the meeting does not meet the criteria for “purpose” in terms of the questions above, there’s your answer. Presenting the “no” as a question can make it a little easier. For example, you might say, “In the interest of everyone’s time, would it be just as effective if we posted a bulletin?”

Also, as the decision makers, leaders often are approached as to when a meeting is appropriate. What’s the best way to manage a situation when someone in your department (or anyone else for that matter) requests a meeting with your team? Ask the instigator the same questions you ask yourself when you want to conduct a meeting. Any weakness in the answers to those questions will help you position your message if you are inclined to say no.

Once you have agreed to accept this meeting, how do you make sure it lives up to its “purpose?” What will a successful meeting look like? Are you anticipating change and new results? Can the impact be measured? When can you expect to see the results? Reporting outcomes and results is an important factor in tying meetings to purpose, and as such should be included in the follow-up projects of practically every meeting.

2. People.

So you have determined that you “have to” have a meeting because the task or goal cannot be achieved unless all of these people contribute to the thought process at the same time. Now you need to determine who must be included (If someone else is making the suggestion, ask “Who are all of these people and who can we manage without?”).

This checklist can help with this decision:

  • Decision maker (or influencer) – If your meeting is to result in a conclusion, you will need a final authority or someone who will present the group’s findings to the final authority so that the change can be adopted. If there is no final authority, determine in advance how a decision will be made. Majority rule vote is one way.
  • Knowledge resource - Who has the most knowledge, or at least adequate knowledge, about the process or topic to provide expertise to the group? Be sure to invite an expert even if his or her role will be limited to providing information.
  • Cascade/communication resource - Depending on how your organization distributes information, this may need to be a representative from all affected shifts or departments or a member of your internal marketing communications team.
  • Others – who else will benefit and contribute to the meetingThere are people you must have, people it would help to have and people who don’t need to be there. Sorting these out through a lean mindset can improve the effectiveness of your meetings.

3. Preparation.

You have heard the saying “pay now or pay later.” By putting the time and effort in on the front end, you will save your group wasted time (and frustration) on the back end. Ensuring people have enough time to prepare and thoughtful scheduling will make the actual meeting that much more efficient.

It’s not enough just to make sure you have the invitations sent and the resources (conference room, call lines) reserved. Think through what you need each person to review in advance, prepare for or bring to the meeting to make the most effective use of the together time. This will help you set expectations for each individual and the group. Reach out to each person who has a task to explain what you are going to be requesting of them and let them know what they will see included on the agenda. Check in as appropriate before your meeting to make sure each contributor is on track. While all of this seems like a lot of extra work, the time saved for the entire group will far outweigh the investment on the front end. In addition, as your team becomes more accustomed to the meeting requirements and expectations, these steps can become a quick formality.

When people know the point of the meeting in advance and what they and each of the other members of the group will be expected to provide, you are more likely to get buy-in. And, when those involved in the meeting have a sense of purpose, there is much greater engagement.

4. Process.

Lean meetings will have standardized processes. Having an agenda should be the No. 1 standard process for your meetings.

Standardize as much of the process as possible. Identify the leader, reporters, time keeper, decision maker and other roles. Have standards to address what is to be done in the meeting and take care of tasks like including everyone’s contact information on the agenda. Finally, since you’re there, if there is a need for a follow-up meeting, set the date before the meeting adjourns.

5. Points.

Based on the purpose of the meeting, there are no doubt key points that “must” be covered to attain your goals. Those bullet points should be clearly defined in your agenda. Then, let’s take this one step further. Each member of the group will have points he or she wants to cover. The agenda should accommodate space for key questions or discussions from others in the meeting as well. Part of each person’s responsibility before attending the meeting should be to submit any relevant questions they would like to see discussed at the meeting in advance.

This will ensure the topic is well developed in advance and should minimize the new questions that erupt during the meeting.

6. Polish.

Meetings also give the members a chance to share their ideas in a way that impacts and influences others. Help your members understand how to be an active and important contributor to the meeting through their mastery of effective presentation and delivery. Any Dale Carnegie graduate will tell you that 90 seconds will provide more than enough time to make a point. Help your teams learn the art of the 90-second presentation. Why do most presentations take longer? Often because we are unprepared, and we are rambling and scrambling, hoping somehow we will say something important.
Check back next week for the final six tips.

Sabrina Griffin

Sabrina Griffin, RN, BSN, CEN, is the Divisional Director of Clinical Services in EmCare’s Alliance Group.

Sources and references: 
  • Studer Group article “How Cascading Information Creates Consistency” Posted April 21, 2013 by Quint Studer,
  • Association of American Medical Colleges, “Leadership Lesson: Tools for Effective Team Meetings - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Team” by Yvette Pigeon, Ed.D., and Omar Khan, M.D., M.H.S.
  • Mind Tools “Running Effective Meetings - Establishing an Objective and Sticking to it”