Professionals routinely do difficult, but needful, things. Their work is truly exemplary, yet they’re admired first-and-foremost for howthey go about their business. Trusted professionals are at the root of virtually all great breakthroughs, all great performance, and all great leadership. These are people that think differently---they have unique mind-sets.
This is why professional development must include both mind-sets and skill-sets to be truly effective. In healthcare, as in other fields, knitting together mind-sets and skill-sets helps reveal one’s very best self---enabling people to do their very best work. Let’s take a look at the wonderful impact mind-set #1 can have in a healthcare environment.
Mindset # 1—Professionals Have A Bias For Results.
Scenario—Adam, an experienced MRI technologist, attempts to provide an exam under extenuating circumstances to an especially difficult patient.
Context: As Adam knows, results are important. He also knows that results come in various forms. At his lab results are measured against 1) patient satisfaction 2) quality control 3) medical stakeholders satisfaction –radiologists especially and 4) the lab’s economic viability.
As a result of being introduced to the mind-sets, Adam has also come to realize that achieving great results is as much about non-technical factors as it is technical ones---often times more so. None of this is to diminish the importance of Adam’s technical role as a MRI professional---far from it. It simply suggests that there are lots of factors that have nothing to do with technology or one’s technical skill-sets that can sabotage great results.
Stuff happens: things go wrong, people get side-ways with each other, one learns their original assumptions were wrong, a new deadline requiring super-human effort is suddenly required, patient foibles complicate matters, promises aren’t kept, you’re having a bad day, etc. This ‘stuff’ makes an already challenging job more difficult. How each of us reacts to these all-too-frequent and all-too-real situations often has the greatest impact on results.
The Case: Helen is a 67-year old patient in need of a lumbar spine MRI exam. Lower back pain and numbness in her limbs are two of her more pronounced symptoms. Her condition is worsening. Complicating things, Helen weighs 230 pounds, is claustrophobic, and has had less-than-favorable experiences with previous MRI exams.
The radiologist’s report is due to Helen’s physician within a short 36 hours. The report needs to be expedited due to Helen’s recently scheduled surgery. Absent the MRI, the surgery would have been delayed 2 months due to surgical suite scheduling backlogs —an eternity for someone in Helen’s condition.
Handling patients like Helen is difficult---it takes a special MRI technologist to successfully administer the exam. Getting a quality image is difficult enough with a patient like her who tends to have difficulty remaining still. Plus, Helen’s weight, temperament, and claustrophobia all contributed to the probability that she would ask that the exam be stopped---necessitating a reschedule. In her case, a reschedule would prove especially problematic.
Adam, an experienced MRI veteran, was Helen’s technologist. Persistent yet thoughtful; empathetic yet firm----Adam produced remarkable image data with the most challenging of patients. Rarely did one of Adam’s patients ‘bail’ on him.
On the day of her exam, Helen was clearly nervous. Fortunately Adam was successful keeping Helen calm through the initial stages of the exam---especially while carefully positioning her body through the narrow bore of the machine.
Four minutes into the fifteen-minute procedure disaster struck---the machine shut down. It took all of Adam’s faculties to keep Helen on an even-kneel. Eventually he removed her from the bore and got her back to the dressing room. He calmly explained that he would attempt to fix the machine. If this were a gymnastics event, the degree of difficulty would have been an 11.
The typical MRI technologist would have succumbed and rescheduled Helen for another day. Not Adam. He sprung into action---opening up the system’s cabinets and called the off-site service engineer with whom he previously had developed a relationship with. Remarkably, between the two of them they had the machine back up and running in 10 minutes! That’s unheard of.
Even more remarkable was Adam’s ability to coax Helen back into the machine, eventually completing the exam. And, in spite of Helen’s habitual squirming, Adam produced a high quality image that the radiologist was quite pleased with. Plus, he did all of it with a smile on his face. Adam stands out. More to the point, he’s a professional. He takes great pride in that.
In the end, Helen’s surgeon was able to go ahead with the procedure as planned.
Why Adam—The Professional—Prevailed Under Such Difficult Circumstances
The short answer is that Adam knew that his job transcended merely pushing buttons on multi-million dollar MRI machines. Rather, his mind-set was to deliver meaningful, sustainable results for his patients and organization. This is what he expected of himself as a professional.
And because of the ‘stuff’ that Adam has experienced at his lab that consistently threatens results, he doesn’t leave things to chance. He asks questions like:
“What’s likely to go wrong with the equipment?”
“Who do I need to build partnerships with?”
“What are the primary causes of aborted exams?”
“What don’t I know that I should know?”
“What are the primary causes of patient dissatisfaction?”
“What will be my most important professional relationships?”
“What are the top three characteristics of an image that the radiologist is seeking?”
“What can I do to make the patient’s experience ‘the best’?”
“What are the things that are most likely to push my hot-buttons?”
“What can I do to influence a ‘bias for results’ amongst my colleagues?
This why Adam befriends off-site engineers, goes the extra mile in getting to know patient circumstances and needs, has a music library available for patients during exams, partners with radiologists, provides small stuffed animals for young children..among many other things.
It’s also why Adam is admired by his colleagues and adored by his patients. Adam is a professional---his mind-sets (#1 especially) set him apart as such.
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