AU Health Day-in-the-Life Program allows leadership to step into shoes of frontline staff

Doctors walking

As a way to engage Augusta University Health leaders in daily operations in a different way, senior leaders have recently stepped into the shoes of frontline staff.

The Day-in-the-Life Program offers leaders a true understanding of the roles of frontline caregivers. The program appoints leaders to spend at least four hours with a professional in an assigned area to understand what their day-to-day duties entail. Leaders work alongside staff to learn more about their roles and responsibilities without judgment or critique.

A Day-in-a Life provides leaders the opportunity to gain insight into multiple staff roles within the organization as well as develop a sense of shared empathy and understanding. The program also aims to build positive relationships and promote partnerships between leaders and frontline staff throughout the organization.

Dr. Phillip Coule, AU Health chief medical officer, and Beverly Bella, Medical College of Georgia associate dean, finance and administration, were among the first to take a walk in someone else’s shoes.

Coule took on the role of registered nurse, saying the staff member he followed did an excellent job of hourly rounding and anticipating the needs of the patient to help prevent falls.

“I was so impressed with the personal connection that the nurse had with her patients,” Coule said. “We entered one room and the patient’s wife talked to the nurse like she was a close personal friend. It was obvious that the nurse had invested some time getting to know this patient and his spouse. She shared stories of her travels and encouraged the patient there was still hope for a good recovery.”

Coule also found some unexpected challenges for RNs.

“Because of my clinical duties, I am familiar with some of the challenges of nurses, but I was bit surprised at some of the challenges of the nursing documentation workflow,” he said. “Additionally, the nurse was seriously hamstrung by the lack of a functioning computer on wheels.

“We need to make certain the COWS are all functioning and streamline the documentation needed for nursing. The nurse deserves kudos for being a shining example of patient- and family-centered care. This was an excellent experience and I’m looking forward to doing it again in the near future.”

Bella followed staffers in the role of registration specialist.

“After spending time with Autumn and Felecia in the Surgery Clinic, I have a new appreciation for the vital role our front desk teams plays in patient experience,” she said. “Despite a high-demand role which requires the team to contend with competing priorities in a very busy clinic, this team is able to greet patients as though they are family.”

Bella said it is clear this team knows their patients well, which in turn, helps the patients trust them.

“These team members are often the first and last interaction a patient experiences when coming to a clinic,” she said. “AU Health is lucky to have team members like Autumn and Felecia on the team for our patients. It was apparent to me that our patients truly appreciate this team and that this team care deeply for our patients.”

It is easy to see that these are very challenging roles, Bella said.

“The team must adjust to varying demands quickly and must be able to prioritize effectively and in the moment. These team members multitask well and respond to variable demands with grace,” she said. “If I had to make a suggestion to make the role less stressful, I would say that we should prioritize making every effort to adjust systems where we can to better support operations.

“I had a great experience with Autumn and Felecia and gained a renewed appreciation for the complexities our team members work through each and every day to provide a good experience for our patients.”

For more information about the Day-in-the-Life Program, reach out to T. Nicole Boatwright, senior coordinator, patient experience.

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