Our “Values in Action” series celebrates individuals and teams across all of MEDNAX who are living the Values of our company.
We show respect for our colleagues, patients and customers and value all individuals for their diverse backgrounds, experiences, approaches and ideas.
We demonstrate a commitment to integrity and ethics by listening to others and assuming positive intent.
Curt Pickert, MD, President of MEDNAX’s Clinical Services Division, sat down with us to share some of his thoughts on respect and why it is important.In this current health care environment, being a skilled clinician is not enough. Patient-centered care demands more. How can we put that into practice?
“If you think about the skills that are essential for patient-centered care — listening to our patients and their families, keeping them informed about what’s happening, taking their concerns and preferences seriously, providing physical and emotional support — we are working to bring that all together and do what’s in the best interest of the patient. It’s at the heart of our mission, take great care of the patient, every day and in every way. Listening is a form of respect; communicating is a form of respect; compassion is a form of respect. Patient-centered care hinges on one simple action, and that’s respect. I think by being mindful of the tremendous value we all gain from being respectful, it makes us better clinicians. It also helps our patients have a better experience and ultimately leads to better outcomes.”
One of the reasons we wanted to speak with you is the example you set by introducing team “norms” for MEDNAX’s Clinical Services Division. What did you learn during that process?
“When I sat down to develop our Clinical Professionalism Guidelines, I discovered a vast amount of data that supports the value of respect and working collaboratively as a team, specifically the role it plays in patient safety. There have been a number of research studies supporting that lack of a culture of respect, lack of cohesiveness and poor communication — which often go hand-in-hand — harm team dynamics with downstream adverse impact on outcomes, both clinical and non-clinical. Negative influences on an individual’s self-worth or a team’s cohesion can lead to absence of a “Just Culture” with negative outcomes. Incivility, rudeness and aggression in the work place, such as bullying — among staff or even with patients or family members — can interfere with cognitive task performance and basic communication. In the clinical setting, this translates into countless dollars lost in medical expenses and malpractice costs, as well as other inefficiencies – not to mention patient harm, including loss of life. We must be better than that. Respect is a simple commitment that should be a priority for and from us all.”
How can we make respect a genuine behavior so that it builds trust among our teams and patients?
“Respect is something that must be prioritized and lived. It starts at the top, where the leader sets expectations, creates a positive agenda and encourages collaboration. That doesn’t mean we always have to agree. It also doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with every person on the team. Productive disagreements are not a bad thing so long as they remain professional, on-point and within reasonable boundaries. If you listen to each other, if you communicate, if you practice civility and if you respect each other, in the end, the right conclusion will be reached.”
It sounds so easy. But how do we put respect into action in our daily lives?
“Living and practicing respect is not difficult. It means believing that everyone in the room matters and may bring something of value to the discussion, whether it be regarding the care of the patient or in a business setting. It means leaving one’s ego at the door and providing leadership or practicing medicine collaboratively. Respect is setting expectations and maintaining consistency. If you’re having a meeting or a seeing a patient, try to be on time and end on time. People have schedules to keep and other obligations outside of their time with you. If you’re going to be late, keep people informed and don’t make it a habit. When you are with people, be present. Make eye contact and listen. Let people know that you hear them. It’s also important to stay centered and remain positive. How you respond to someone’s behavior can either worsen a bad situation or help defuse it. You never know what’s going on in another person’s world.”
There are several reasons why it is important for an organization to outline guiding principles. From your perspective, what should we take away from them?
“I’ve been at MEDNAX for nine years, and I’ve seen the company through many lenses – as a pediatric critical care physician in an acquired practice, as a Medical Director, a Regional Vice President of Operations, Chief Medical Officer, and now finally as President of the Clinical Services Division. I’m sincerely pleased to see the evolution I’m witnessing within our company. The re-introduction of our mission, vision and values is a great example of positive change. We are placing a new, stronger significance on the way teams function together. Certain older virtues that we should be practicing every day, such as respect and team norms, are critical to our success. And, it’s important to be reminded of them regularly because they make a real difference in what we deliver at the end of the day.”
The lines of communication are always open for Dr. Curt Pickert. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800) 243-3839 x6278.