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Strength in Numbers: The Importance of Nurse Leader-Medical Director Collaboration

Posted on Wed, Feb 01, 2017
Strength in Numbers: The Importance of Nurse Leader-Medical Director Collaboration

By Ginger Wirth, RN

In general, we have a tendency to work in silos in healthcare. We tend to focus on the jobs in front of us and the tasks that we need to complete to get to the end point of the encounter, visit or procedure. There are times when we forget or appear to ignore those around us and their contributions to what we are accomplishing. Perhaps we take for granted that the preliminary work gets done, or that the follow up gets completed when we are finished with our part. The reality is that nothing would actually happen without all of the moving parts and the entire team doing exactly their jobs at the right time and place.

We have an opportunity in healthcare to recognize and strengthen those relationships and teams. It’s important to support and thank the parts of the team that may be far in the background, but are crucial to making our task happen or making it easier.

One relationship that is key is the nurse leader-medical director team. This is parallel to a marriage in many ways. Both managers have to be reaching for the same goals and setting the action items together to get to the finish line. There are times when they will not agree on the tactic or maybe even the goal, but there needs to be a constructive way to debate, discuss and ultimately come to an understanding on how to get there.

It’s key that these discussions happen in a private, confidential and safe environment. If they are conducted in the open, the rest of the team may interfere, see any discontent as rationale not to follow the directive, or even use the negativity to undermine the leadership as a whole. To mirror the “marriage” example, the “kids” will try and use “dad” against “mom” to get what they want. It is so important that this key relationship presents a unified front and send clear goals, expectations and the same message.

The other benefit of a healthy, strong and collaborative relationship between the nurse leader and medical director is the support that they can offer each other. Often, there are the same administrative pressures on the nurse leader as the medical director, so it helps to be able to candidly share frustrations, challenges and ways to cope with each other. In the ED world, these key leaders have been selected for their roles due to their strong personalities and leadership qualities. Why not tap into each other’s skills and potential? Share your strengths with each other and hopefully you’ll feel comfortable enough to take feedback to improve yourself or the message you are sending to the team.

The most effective healthcare team works together. It takes every part working well and collaboratively to get results and reach your goals.

Ginger Wirth, RN

Ginger Wirth, RN, joined EmCare in 2013 as a Divisional Director of Clinical Services. Her goal is to make positive changes in healthcare by helping others focus on quality, excellence, and the overall patient experience. Wirth regards her role as Director of Clinical Services as the ideal opportunity to partner with nursing, physician and facility leaders to make positive changes to the entire patient care experience. Her 20-plus year nursing career has been dedicated to quality and excellence, promoting overall positive outcomes and safety for patients.
 

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5 Leadership Tips for Weathering Tough Times with Your Team

Posted on Wed, May 25, 2016
5 Leadership Tips for Weathering Tough Times with Your Team

By Ginger Wirth, RN
 
On a recent flight from Houston to Dallas I was stalled on the tarmac for almost 3 hours due to a horrible series of storms. When we finally were able to take off, I looked out of the window of the plane as we made our way into the sky and noticed the changes in the atmosphere. I saw the dark grey sky, storms and rain, change into just dark clouds, then white cotton-like puffs and eventually transforming into a majestic blue sky. It took the ascent to almost 30,000 feet to escape what was happening on the ground – a weather disaster to tranquility. How often do we get caught up in what is happening "on the surface" that we forget to see what is above us? Can we find calm, blue skies if we simply push past what surrounds us?
 
It’s easy to be stuck in the “thunderstorm” of what is going on around us. We feel the cold rain on our face, feel the shaking boom of the thunder and the flash of lightning. We conclude that it’s a "force of nature" and we have no control or recourse. We simply concede and eventually accept it as so. Inevitably it “the storm” will pass, but what happens when we simply choose to only live in that moment? Many times we get sucked into the darkness of the storm, and sometimes fail to see the positives or the opportunities that may hidden within.
 
In times like this, we as leaders have the unique opportunity to bring the team up to that 30,000-foot level.

 

  1. Recognize the situation. Don't ignore the potential flood that may be heading your way. Use this as a chance to rise above it. Encourage your informal leaders to step up and support their efforts. You would be surprised to see them shine when they know that you believe in them in times like this! Encourage those who are "on the fence" to participate in solutions to get through the challenge. It’s highly likely that you will find some new or undiscovered talent right in front of you!

  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Make sure that your team is aware of what’s happening. Don't assume that they know what’s going on even if they are in the middle of it. Make sure that all are aware of the solutions and the steps that are being implemented. Remember, teams are more stressed when they don't know what’s going on or don't know what’s being done to address it.

  3. Learn from each and every situation. Go back and dissect what happened. Recognize opportunities for improvement, solicit feedback from all members of the team, and duplicate and celebrate what went right. Behaviors will be repeated when there is positive reinforcement faster than when the focus is on what went wrong.

  4. Focus on the future. Make sure that the team knows that there are blue skies ahead. They need to believe that they will reach the goals, that this dark time will not be the norm. If for some reason it’s happening more frequently, they need to know that there will be a solution, and, when appropriate, that they can participate in that solution.

  5. Be an advocate and champion for change. Challenges will happen. It’s how we approach them and deal with them that will make the difference. Leading by example is always a good strategy. 

This concept can be applied to so many instances: personal, professional and leadership. Remember that once you break through that storm ceiling, there will be blue skies and calm winds ahead. How we prepare, react and deal with the blustering weather makes all the difference! It’s essential that you, as the leader, be the pilot, engage the team and help the team fly high and reach their potential! 
 
“Rise to the challenge of bringing your dreams to life! Do not be discouraged by resistance, be nourished by it. Success is the experience of rising to the level of your true greatness.” Dr. Steve Maraboli
 
Ginger Wirth

Ginger Wirth, RN, joined EmCare in 2013 as a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for the Alliance Group. Her goal is to make positive changes in healthcare by helping others focus on quality, excellence, and the overall patient experience. Wirth regards her role as Director of Clinical Services as the ideal opportunity to partner with nursing, physician and facility leaders to make positive changes to the entire patient care experience. Her 20-plus year nursing career has been dedicated to quality and excellence, promoting overall positive outcomes and safety for patients.

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