You’re a seasoned ED Nurse. You are respected by your peers. You are up to date with the latest medical advances, you treat your patients well, you’re a strong patient advocate and actively advocate for patient safety and the nursing profession even if it conflicts with some of your organizations priorities. You probably feel your operating at or near the expert level and have been evaluated that way for a number of years but I have news for you. Nurses are no longer graded on the Novice to Expert scale. They are now being categorized as Low, Medium, and High performers. So how do you know where you fit in and what’s behind this new evaluation system? Hold on, if you haven’t already you’re about to be Studerized or something that sounds similar but is much more painful, at least from what I’ve been told.
How can you tell if you’re on the road to Studerization. It starts out when your managers, CNE, CEO, ED MD Director, among others leave for a few days to a conference or management retreat. The retreats are usually held in resort places like Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Florida but have been branching out to other cities and even webinars. You are not told what it’s all about and you don’t care, you’re just happy to see them gone for a few days. When they return you notice an immediate change. They are using new lingo and talk like they have been indoctrinated into some sort of cult. They are very scripted. They use terms like “Hardwired”, “Fire Starter” “Best Practice” “Taking the organization to the next level” “Low Performers” and “Rounding.” Some of these I wrote about in a previous post titled annoying consultant speak They also talk about some charismatic character named Quint Studer. From conversations with a number of people who’ve attended the programs they sound like a combination of a Amway multilevel marketing seminar, manager training seminar, and Kool-Aid drinking cult gathering. There usually is an inspirational speaker to pump up the crowd. There are various levels and once students are immersed in the philosophy they are considered “Studerized”. A more advanced level is the “Fire Starter” which has a 15 point litmus test called “15 Sparks”. Hospitals can even win the prestigious Fire Starter Award after a visit from one of the Studer troopers.
Hospitals thought-out the nation are trying to improve their patient satisfaction scores and marketing share. I have written about that in a post on patient satisfaction scores out of balance and How has the patient satisfaction push effected your practice. They have turned to groups like Studer who give them the nuts and bolts of turning patients into customers and strategies to bump their satisfaction scores. I have listed my own strategies here.
Not long after the retreat new concepts start appearing into the work area. Some are founded in good ideas but are being done for marketing reasons and means to boost patient satisfaction scores rather than any interest in patient care. Some measures include.
Scripting: Nurses are no longer free to communicate the way that feels natural or based on the situation at hand but are given scripts to communicate with their patients. Coincidentally, or not, the scripts prompt the patient to answer their discharge surveys by injecting key phrases into the scripts that correspond with the questions on the survey. Would you like Fries with that?
Managing up: Encouraging staff to positively portray services and co-workers, doctors, ect during conversations and hand offs regardless if it is true or not. Hi, this is your Doctor, He is one of our best physicians, The patients really love him. Wink Wink
Hourly rounding: Rounding every hour and every half our for ER utilizing your best scripting language. Staff are required to fill out rounding documents and some facilities play the beach boys music “I get Around” every hour on the hour to remind staff. Even the Manager, CNE, and CEO round once a day and ask patients directly if your Nurse has been doing their rounding. I hope my patients are not sleeping when I round, I might get a write up for not performing my hourly’s.
Discharge Phone calls: Generally a good concept if done to check on patients but these calls are timed and scripted to plant answers to survey questions with the specific purpose of boosting patient satisfaction scores. Expect a call the day before your survey arrives provided you were not admitted, transferred, mental health, or someone who really needed to be in the ER.
Peer review: Having staff fill out 1 to 5 rating scales on each other in 5 different categories. Used to help classify people as low, medium, or high performers. If you dont participate your immediatly classified a low performer. Nice way of turning the staff against each other.
RME: Marketing measures disguised as ED through put measures that focus on turnover and catering to low acuity patients, oops, I mean customers. I have written on RME and similar programs here and here. The common thread it that they de-emphasize Triage and limit the practice of Nursing.
So where do you fall, Here are some characteristics of low, medium, and high performers from the Studer site. Funny thing, you could be a effective employee and Studer still recommends you be fired
“..In fact, I would even suggest that you terminate employees who get results but do not role model your organization’s standards of behavior, because they are so damaging to overall employee morale”.
One Chief Nursing officer at a Sutter Health Facility learned the hard way about the dangers of email. It exposed how managers are using groups like Studer target their staff following a quota system. She instructs each department manager to identify 3 low performers per unit “You know who they are” for moving up or out to improve Press Ganey scores. Read her leaked memo here. CNA gave a great response on the same memo.
So are you ready to be Studerized. Bend over.