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Backbone in Nurse Staffing

Sergeants are the backbone of the military.  As the backbone they are key to holding it together, to every part moving in coordination, and carrying whatever weight it must bear in the situation at hand.  Recently, I listened to a TEDxTalk given by Kathleen Bartholomew entitled Lessons from Nursing to the World (  She talks about hierarchy in the healthcare system and relationships between nurses and how when everyone in an organization is empowered to care, valued from janitorial to nurse to doctor. 

When you’re new to the military or law enforcement, Sergeants are key to your learning, your confidence, the team’s ability to complete the mission, with their candor and leadership building the sinew that empowers.  Imagine a new private who doesn’t call out when they see something for fear they don’t have confidence or experience to do so.  Imagine when someone in the squad falls and the instant reaction from their team isn’t carry them, but get their own boxes checked and circle back. 

When sirens blare and lights spin, when bullets whizz, we are all humans and teammates; there is fear overcome with courage and there is training.  Toxicity is the opposite of this, when teammates are transactional in their interactions, leaning against one another, instead of on one another.  Bartholomew talks about a power dynamic in healthcare with dominant groups and oppressed groups.  She asserts that dominant groups direct power down and the oppressed group starts to infight subconsciously and self- silencing.  Self-silencing she indicates is the inability to raise up issues for fear of reaction, fear of retaliation, fear of making it worse, fear of hurting someone’s feelings.  Instead of being able to improve a nursing staff we hold back because we value relationships with our co-workers; it’s a catch 22, the fears perpetuate the communication to speak out because of the perception it will get worse and thus it becomes worse.  Communication breaks down between the nursing staff and it’s at this critical junction that Bartholomew notes that approximately 1,000 people die from preventable medical errors daily.   

If the mission is the patient and we are all on this nursing floor together why do we self-silence out of fear. We can bring the personality of the squad into the floor; this is what we hope to achieve with Iron Medical in nurse staffing.  Everyone from new to seasoned is critical because communication keeps patients safe, “Watch your left”, “Cover fire”, simply become “That room isn’t clean” or “I heard a thumping coming from the room and looked in”.  These last two quotes are from Bartholomew’s video describing how an effective nursing unit runs where everyone is valued, has voice, has purpose from housekeeping to doctor.  The nursing staff was transformed after a communication overhaul and two housekeepers saved 2 lives within 6 months.  In the first situation the housekeeper heard a thumping sound and looked into a room and saw a patient choking to death with the call buzzer dropped on the floor.  Fast forward, a few months later another housekeeper stops an ill patient from going into a Mersa infected room. 

Communication keeps patients safe just as it kept those who have served safe.  Leaders who inspire confidence, teach, and support will improve a nursing staff through their sheer positivity and mission focus.  Hospital Administration that recognizes that nursing staff are backbones to communication will drive their hospital’s care, compassion, and revenue up on its own merit.  Any team that would care and communicate at such a level is one who knows what it is like to put our own lives in jeopardy to save those next to us, is the same team that would embody the nurse staffing mission at Iron Medical. 

Link to the video is above and also embedded the video below.  It’s worth a watch. 





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