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Within Healthcare, Everyone is a Caregiver

April 26, 2017

healthcare_caregiver.jpgI recently attended the Becker's Hospital Review's Annual Meeting in Chicago, which brings together 3,000 of the country's top healthcare leaders. A highlight every year is listening to Dr. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. It's always inspirational to hear how healthcare SHOULD be delivered.

One thing that stuck out (to me) from his presentation this year: At the Cleveland Clinic, they take the position that "Everyone is a Caregiver." Everyone from the environmental services worker, to the nurse manager, to the people in IT, and up through the administrators - whether they actually INTERACT with patients - they IMPACT patient care.  So they are, by definition, "caregivers."

How important is this concept? Here's an example that comes to mind: At PSI, we were building a selection system for a hospital. A few operating room nurses were so focused on finding clinically skilled candidates that they wanted to remove a measure of compassion or empathy in our nursing behavioral assessment. It's not completely illogical — it is a highly technical role and the patient, to be honest, is unconscious for most of the procedure! However, and this is really important, there are decisions made in the OR and in the perioperative process where you want to have the patient's interests to be the first and foremost consideration of everyone involved.

Similarly, there are decisions made in the administrative suite or the call center, or the decision support department that have real impacts on patients. In those moments, everyone is a caregiver. Accordingly, you need to evaluate candidates for every position in the organization with this in mind. Technical and clinical skills are critically important - you need candidates who have the skills to perform the core job functions. But over and over, we find that what differentiates performance and what drives patient-centered care are behavioral competencies including service orientation, empathy, collaboration, and adaptability.

While conducting focus groups for a large health system, we were asking nurses what attributes make for a top performer. Nurses from hospitals that weren't Magnet certified often talked about clinical skills. Nurses from Magnet hospitals, though, were far more likely to cite behavioral competencies.

Dr. Cosgrove's presentation illustrates the question that needs to be asked: Does your healthcare organization's approach to hiring support the concept that everyone is a caregiver?

To learn more, check out our whitepaper on "Evidence-Based Hiring."

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.