Nurses and residents are now figuratively trading lab coats and scrubs as a part of a new job shadow program at Madigan Army Medical Center.
The program helps doctors and nurses to better communicate while opening their eyes to the day-to-day duties of their medical counterparts. On most inpatient floors, nurses run the day-to-day (or even hour-to-hour) patient care while doctors oversee patients’ care plans as they treat other patients in the hospital as well.
“The plan is for residents to live the life of a nurse,” said Dr. Michael Braun, the medical director for Madigan’s 6th floor medical/surgical unit. Nurses, in turn, “spend the day running around in the shoes of a resident.”
The job shadowing started six months ago to build camaraderie and improve communication between surgical residents and nurses; just recently, family medicine residents joined in, too.
Captain (Dr.) Emily Craig, a first year family medicine resident, learned more about how a hospital floor flows as she followed an inpatient nurse. As she shadowed care from feeding patients to walking with them to responding to their social and emotional needs, Craig said she gained a greater appreciation for the amount of time that nursing care takes.
“These are things that we don’t see as physicians,” she said.
When 2nd Lt. Sean Coolidge, a registered nurse, shadowed residents, he witnessed firsthand the fast pace of their work, from care handoffs to meetings, and rounds to discussions of care plans. He also realized the high number of pages that residents receive and took the opportunity to ask how the paging process could improve.
“It gives a bigger perspective,” said Capt. Laura Gafken, an inpatient surgical liaison nurse who works one-on-one with residents and nurses and helps support the job shadow program.
While the program promotes greater understanding and relationships at the individual level, it also allows participants to address more systemic issues as well. Since shadowing residents, nursing staff developed a board to track all outgoing pages to different services to eliminate duplicate pages; the shadowing also reinforced the need to have critical information on hand when doctors return pages to save time during their phone calls.
The program also encourages residents to share success stories and initiatives they observe in their job shadowing across the various units they work in. In fact, the level of communication across the board has improved since the job shadowing program began.
“We have also noticed in our (TRICARE Inpatient Satisfaction Surveys) data that our patient satisfaction has gone up,” Gafken said. “Ultimately we feel it’s helped communication with patients, nurses and physicians.”