We’ve all done it.
The ER gets annoyed because the inpatient floor is lagging on an admission.
The inpatient unit thinks the ICU team has an elitist mentality.
The ICU nurse has an icy tone when a step-down nurse isn’t available to give report for a transfer.
The MRI nurse can’t understand why you were 20 minutes late getting your patient down to radiology.
“Don’t they know …
… how busy I am?
… that there’s a line of patients waiting to be seen behind this one?
… what our process is?
… there’s a code in progress?!”
The thing is, most of the time, we have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes of any given unit, even if it’s next door to us. Any hospital or institution is a complex organism with many systems and parts. And while the creature as a whole shares a similar goal, every part serves a different function; agonists and antagonists, catalysts and diffusers. Every department has large and small bottom lines to meet, and they aren’t always exactly in sync.
It’s natural to share a collective sense of pride with the medical team you work alongside everyday. Only you guys know exactly what needs to be done and when, what patient population you’re dealing with, who is overloaded and who has an extra hand to help out. Your team functions like a well-oiled machine and when someone throws a wrench into the cogs, the smooth workflow you’re used to can be seriously derailed.
There’s a better way. And it starts with realizing that whoever you’re dealing with — on the other line or in radiology or the ER — has just as many demands and just as long of a task list as you do. Open the communication pipelines. You may discover that you have a lot more in common with those other units than you may think.
Tips for closing the gap between rivalry units
- Remember you’re dealing with a person who is just trying to do their job. Chances are their intent is not to make your job more difficult, but to complete the job being asked of them.
- Explain what’s going on behind the scenes. Unless you tell them, no one can know exactly what you’re up against on any given day.
- Host small group coffee breaks to educate other units about your unit’s workflow. If you know more about how a unit works, you will be able to maneuver your needs around theirs more effectively and might feel a little less huffy if your needs aren’t met as immediately as you would like.
- Show willingness to discuss a situation without being defensive. Take a look back at this post with lots of great tips for engaging in successful conflict resolution.