Currently the Nurse Manager of UH Regional Emergency Departments at UH Bedford/Richmond Medical Centers, David Cox III, RN, BSN, reflects on an important conversation with his manager that changed his viewpoint about patient experience.
I never gave much thought to patient experience when I started in the emergency department and if I did, it was usually negative. Why should I care about how the patient was treated? I was nice and gave highly skilled care. Eventually, I became the Assistant Nurse Manager at Bedford Emergency. About this time, patient experience in the ED started becoming a topic for which I was being held accountable for improving. After one particularly long and discouraging meeting about patient experience, I voiced my frustrations to my Nurse Manager. I remember saying, “Don’t you think this patient experience stuff is just a bunch of crap? You just can’t make people happy in the emergency department."
My seasoned manager who was often described as rogue and not following fads responded, “No. I don’t think that at all. I think it’s very important.” I didn’t expect this response!
She continued, “I have been in the ED for 20 years and I can tell you we used to treat people like garbage. Absolute garbage. If you didn’t like the care we were providing, then go somewhere else.” She described how now she believes the best thing we can do is treat people with respect. They deserve it no matter what. We need to treat people like human beings. We have to care about them.
My manager helped me reconsider my standpoint. Yes, I had been nice and friendly to my patients, but had I been kind and compassionate? I started to rethink what I wanted to do as a caregiver. I started thinking more about how the patient experienced their visit. I tried to identify what actions made a positive impact to make them feel cared for, not just treated. This was the most important conversation I ever had with another caregiver. It made me realize that my behaviors and my judgements have a real consequence to my patients. That is when I realized patient experience is important.