Change is scary. And no one knows this better than a hospital’s clinical staff. Physicians have been practicing medicine the same way for years. And nurses are constantly learning new procedures, sometimes just about as fast as they mastered the last one. None of your staff went to school to be an IT professional, so on top of any changes, they are also being required to learn how to manage electronic medical records. And all of this can leave many of them saying “I didn’t go to school for this!” So how do you get your practitioners back to the basics of practicing medicine while still smoothly implementing some necessary changes?
Instead of simply working on managing the change from your perspective, try seeing all of this through the eyes of your staff. There are three key questions they might ask themselves during any change. If you shape your response around their questions and concerns, while you still might have some late adopters, you might find yourself spending more time working with nurses and physicians, and less time at odds with them.

Question #1: Do I want to stay here?

This is typically your team’s first question. If your staff harbor negative feelings toward your care center, it might be easy for them to feel like they don’t want to stay. We spend more hours at work than any other activity during our waking hours, so we should definitely want to be happy about where we will spend the majority of our time; especially given the number of hours hospital staff are with each other during their shift. You want your staff to have a positive connection to your care center. “Lack of advancement opportunities” is the top fear of healthcare professionals,[1] so by making their growth a priority, you make it less likely that they will leave. Integrate any change or new training initiatives with areas they’re excited about. By offering staff the chance to choose to grow in areas they are passionate about, it can be much easier to introduce other training that may be more difficult, which should keep the happy feelings much higher.

Question #2: Do I need to stay here?

So after we address the positive and negative feelings that come with change, we must also look at the fundamental question they must ask, even if they want to stay: do I need to stay here? Before leaving a hospital, staff members will weigh the career and financial costs, among other factors. These costs will become tougher to bear the more they’re emotionally invested in their work. One way to address this is to do some internal marketing and create an offering to the staff that shows you are really invested in their welfare. You can also address this by giving staff projects they are going to feel give them purpose and help keep them connected to their jobs. The burden of switching jobs may seem worth it if they don’t feel they hold much value in their current position. However, being invested in their job and your organization help outweigh the burden of having to manage and deal with change.

Question #3: Should I stay here?

So once your staff ask themselves if they want to stay and if they need to stay, they can answer the question if they should stay. And all of this comes down to weighing the negatives and the positives. If the negatives outweigh the positives, it will be much easier for a staff member to leave. High retention rates are the goal, but they don’t tell you if team members are staying out of obligation. Start by getting your employees communicating with each other, especially about non-work topics. This also sends the message that your organization cares about their happiness outside of the office, as well. You can do this by rounding with your team and stopping by to check on them and see how they are doing outside of the day-to-day clinical operations. You can even start this as early as the onboarding phase by scheduling social events that reflect the team culture. By helping them establish their personal network, they’ll feel a stronger emotional connection to their work and their colleagues, which drives engagement, retention, and performance.
[1] No author. “TurnoveRx: How to Cure the Retention Problems Ailing Your Health Care Organization.” Date published: N/A. Date accessed: Oct. 6, 2015.