Insights From Wapiti

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The Value of Difficult Conversations

Navigating difficult conversations in healthcare isn’t just a skill but a necessity. Dr. Patricia Goodemote, M.D., a healthcare consultant and coach, explains the value of these conversations and offers insights on how to approach them effectively.

Recognizing the Reluctance

The shortage of trained healthcare workers is felt most acutely in rural areas. As a result, Dr. Goodemote acknowledges the reluctance in some smaller facilities to engage in difficult conversations. She notes, “There’s often a fear of losing valuable team members, which can overshadow the need for addressing underlying issues.”

However, the consequences of avoiding difficult conversations can be severe. Dr. Goodemote stresses the potential erosion of trust over time, stating, “Unresolved issues can fester beneath the surface, leading to deeper rifts within the team.” She also highlights the risk of losing other team members, adding, “If concerns are left unaddressed for too long, individuals may seek opportunities elsewhere.”

Preparing for the Conversation

Preparation is critical to successfully navigating difficult conversations. Dr. Goodemote underscores the need to take time to prepare, considering the specific circumstances and desired outcomes. There may be multiple issues that have built up but only focus on one large or two small outcomes.  “Preparation allows you to approach the conversation with confidence and clarity, increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.” She offers this advice for conversations that require immediate attention: “Even in time-sensitive situations, it’s important to approach the conversation with empathy and compassion.”

Managing the Aftermath

Communication becomes paramount after a difficult conversation. Dr. Goodemote advises transparency with the remaining team members, ensuring they understand the necessity of the conversation and the steps taken to address the issue. She says, “It’s essential to provide clarity and reassurance about the path forward.” Goodemote encourages facilities to foster a culture of open communication.

In conclusion, navigating difficult conversations in healthcare requires empathy, preparation, and a commitment to open dialogue. Dr. Goodemote’s insights are helpful guidelines for healthcare professionals seeking to address challenging issues and drive positive organizational change.

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