My 16-year old daughter, Sarah*, has been determined to pursue a career in healthcare, specifically patient care, since she was four years old. Such determination, I believe, came from a small community hospital where I was employed while she was age 4-6.
My office was on the third floor of the hospital, opposite the Obstetrics department. At times I would bring Sarah into work with me in the evening and she would sit and color quietly with the promise that she could go and see the babies and the nurses when I was finished with my task at hand. The staff at the community hospital was very caring and kind, which also left my daughter feeling comfortable in a hospital setting. To this day, she has no reservation whatsoever about going to hospitals.
This past month, Sarah enrolled in a CNA course at a technical college. Impressed with her willingness to grow and learn, my husband and I gladly paid the fees. She has been diligently learning and working, leaving home for high school and 7:15 a.m. and returning home after her CNA course between 9:00 – 10:00 p.m.
On Monday, Sarah began her “clinicals” at a nursing home. When she arrived home I eagerly asked, “Well, how did it go?” She responded, “I don’t want to talk about it,” and broke into tears…
Sarah went on to tell me that she dislikes the nursing home because she feels the patients are “Treated like sh_ _.” As I probed further, she proceeded to tell me that she and her classmates identified several types of care which were not administered properly by the nursing home CNAs (based on their classroom learning). When the class questioned the quality or process of care, the students received sarcastic responses, such as, “I’m sure we’ll hear about this tomorrow.” My daughter indicated that the CNAs were unwilling to show and teach and were rude to the students. “Mom, they do a sloppy job and all they care about is getting out of the room,” she said.
I reminded her that there are places to work as a part-time CNA other than a nursing home. I told her to “suck it up” and get through “clinicals” and proceed with the testing process. “That’s life,” I said. “It’s rough out there.”
And then it hit me! If she truly wants a career in health care, especially patient care, then she is one fortunate young woman because she has found her calling. I asked her to keep taking mental or written notes of what she felt was “wrong” with the “system” or level of “care,” because one day, she might be able to make a difference. One day, she may be the RN on the unit supervising the CNAs … or the director of nursing … or the administrator… or a physician. I asked her to hold on to the thought that if she truly cares about the care of patients, she must continue to pursue a career in health care with a personal mission to make a difference in whatever capacity she can.
As healthcare marketers, we too can make a difference. For various reasons, each of us has chosen healthcare’s noble mission. I would like to challenge myself and each of you to place a keen eye and ear on the patient experience. Has your organization incorporated the marketing department’s representation in its patient satisfaction initiatives? If not, your organization may have a huge “disconnect” in its patient satisfaction initiative.
Consider this … every marketing and business development dollar invested goes down the drain if we cannot “walk the talk” and live up to the promises we convey in our advertising and communications. Why in the world would any organization want to exclude the Marketing/Communications department from such an important and costly initiative?
For example: a few years ago, I went to a clinic which was being heavily promoted for same-day appointments. I called for an appointment and did get an appointment that same day. Unfortunately, I spent an unreasonable amount of time in that clinic, the majority of which was wait time for the physician, the lab tech, and the lab results. The next time I heard a promotion for same-day service, I laughed to myself and thought, “Get a clue, people!” If most patients had the same experience I had, I’m guessing there were a lot of wasted marketing dollars.
If your marketing department is not taking a leadership role in the patient experience, ask yourself and your leadership, “Why not?” It is imperative that marketing departments fully understand what their organizations’ service goals are and likewise what their “gaps” or “disconnects” in service are so they tailor their messages appropriately and use their marketing dollars wisely.
“Let gratitude be your attitude. Give thanks every day for your life, your work, your family and your role in fulfilling healthcare’s noble mission.” — Unknown
*Names have been changed for confidentiality.
Cindy Verhasselt, Marketing Manager
Bone & Joint Center
WHPRMS North Central District Representative