By Kim Bassett
Everyone involved in providing healthcare to a patient is a leader, regardless of their position or job title. The people that we care for often don’t understand what’s going on with them or why we are doing what we are doing. They may not be familiar with the medical jargon used to describe a health condition or medical process that will be taking place to treat their condition. It’s up to us, everyday leaders, to help them navigate the healthcare system.
Physicians, charge nurses, hospital management may be obvious leaders. You will also find a leader in the security guard that helps a patient or visitor navigate through the hospital, the radiology technician that takes extra time to explain a particular test or procedure, and the nursing assistant that reminds their patient to call for help before getting out of bed. Each of us help lead or guide our patients through the system.
Things you can do to be an everyday leader:
- Do your job and do it well. You can make a difference by just doing your job. For example, if you see water on the floor, take the lead by making sure no one gets hurt until it gets cleaned up. Your work environment is a reflection of you. Treat it as if it is your home. You are welcoming patients and visitors into your “home.”
- Listen before acting. A true leader is able to listen, assess and then formulate a plan. When you are interacting with people, let them finish speaking before talking. If you hear doubt or concern, take a few extra minutes to give further explanation or answers. Asking someone if they can repeat back your directions is a good way to know if there is understanding.
- Step up. Sometimes a situation arises where there is a void in leadership and people are unconsciously seeking a new leader. This is a good time to step up and fill the void. Take the lead and offer to find the right person or policy.
- Care about people. Good leaders care. They will go out of their way to solve a problem and create a healthy work environment. Care about your coworkers, patients, and visitors.
- Create value. Share new ideas. Look for opportunities to participate on teams. Be part of the work environment. New ideas get people excited and they will naturally look to the person who came up with the idea as a leader.
- Continue your education. Education comes in many forms. College and degrees are one way to get education but there are lots of other educational opportunities. You can research anything online. Look for local seminars and classes that offer education on leadership. Find a leader you respect and ask them to be a mentor.
The people we serve look to us to guide them through some of the most uncertain and difficult times in their life. There is no greater reward in life than to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve.