Posted August 06, 2018

COACHING MINUTE: Mission is Critical

By Jeff Wood, RN

Keeping our mission alive and visible to our staff and patients is a challenge for healthcare leaders. But it’s also vital. If I asked you to grade yourself on this, how would you rate? How are you doing keeping the mission front and center in your hospital or department?

I was reminded of the importance of this recently when talking to a physician leader in a busy trauma center who was struggling with a challenge many of us have faced -- am I making a difference and connecting with my patients in a way that makes an impact?  This conversation didn’t necessarily center on saving lives. At that moment in time, he wasn’t concerned with the immediacy of knowing that the patient who arrived coding is now headed to the ICU with a chance of surviving. It was a deeper, less urgent reflection on whether he was making a difference in the everyday lives of the people he works with and the less acute patients he serves in his emergency department.

As a tenured healthcare leader, I’ve always found value in reconnecting to our mission. I would often ask myself: What did I do today to provide exemplary care or serve all men and women?  Was it done in a way that treated the whole person physically and spiritually? Did we, as a department, stay true to our mission of alleviating suffering and improving the health of our community?

As a Studer Group coach, I get the distinct honor of working with the best of the best. Each organization operates a bit differently, but the importance of connecting our staff and leaders to our mission remains constant in every healthcare institution I’ve ever visited. Here are a few of the practical methods I have seen for keeping your mission front and center each day.

  • One health system I work with starts EVERY meeting with a staff member reading the health system’s mission. Does it keep the conversation pointed toward the patient?  Absolutely!
  • A best-practice that we’ve used for many years involves placing a poster-sized, framed sign that states the hospital’s mission behind the triage desk in the emergency department. It’s both a clear reminder to our staff about how to treat our patients and families and a commitment to a nervous family member that their loved one is in good hands.
  • Consider adding your mission to your email signature. This provides a crucial reminder when an electronic conversation deviates from the organization’s mission and values.
  • Start each pre-shift huddle with a “connect to purpose” story from the department that illustrates your mission in action. Remember to manage up or acknowledge anyone who shares or was an integral participant in the situation.

Remember, keeping your mission alive and visible is vital to the sustainability of an exceptional culture centered around patients and families. But don’t stop there. It’s when we see the mission living through our team members’ actions that it truly becomes a living, breathing credo.


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