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.

Gregory Roth
Great article, Ginger. I'd even go a step further. Without a strong, positive, aligned ED NM/SMD relationship; the ED will not be successful. The staff will be confused leading to rogue operations instead of a solid culture of excellence. It's really a great experience when this is done right and everyone, especially the patients, benefit.
3/1/2017 6:58:11 PM