Building a Shared Consciousness in a Health Care Setting

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“All living things are interconnected through networks of relationships. We depend on this web of life to survive.”
Thomas Friedman, New York Times best-selling author

What makes humans stand out is our capacity to be aware of our connections. True connectedness is based on shared consciousness-a belief that we need one another to excel, and are stronger together than apart. 

We all have a yearning for belonging. Being part of a community makes us feel good. We are simply happier and more productive when we are part of a group. So, we must rely on each other to be conscious.

Here lies the dilemma. In today’s fast-paced, digitally connected world, we are struggling emotionally in a crisis of disconnection. A lot of this is due to fear-fear of vulnerability, fear of hurt and pain, and fear of criticism and conflict. 

A Micro-practice of Hand-washing Transformed

For our book CONSCIOUS, The Power of Awareness in Business and Life, we interviewed a conscious nurse from Stanford Healthcare named Grissel. Sitting in the shadow of Silicon Valley, her hospital is as high tech as you would expect. As a nursing professional development specialist at Stanford, she noticed that the access to cutting-edge technology brought with it both a blessing and a curse. “One of the challenges that nurses face is to balance the need to save someone’s life with all the technology you can throw at them, never forgetting there’s a human being behind the curtain.”

A negative side effect of high-tech health care is that nursing is faster, more complex, and carries more pressure to do more with less. What it has gained in efficiency it has lost in depersonalization. Patients become tasks instead of human beings. Grissel was challenged with helping her nursing staff be more authentic while using the technology tools.  

Grissel found a low-tech solution.  She turned to the remarkably mundane micro-practice of hand-washing and transformed it into an effective exercise in self-care that her nurses use 5-30 times a shift. Rather than mentally checking out during each 30-second hand washing, she asks nurses to take a deep breath, recite a mantra, or say a prayer. These are moments that they use to take care of themselves. “It’s amazing when you bring consciousness back to the work. It moves you away from the automated, auto-pilot way of caring for people, and brings you back to the true purpose of nursing.”

This micro-practice of hand-washing is a good example of how to strengthen the shared consciousness of people at work. In the complicated, life-and-death nature of nursing, her low-tech solution solved a complex human problem.

Every workplace has its hand-washing moments- ritual times to pause, promote well-being, celebrate the shared mission and deepen connections and awareness. It’s the leader’s job to find these moments for the good of the workplace.  

A Health Care Case Study in Transformation:

Healthy Companies has been working on a multi-year leadership and culture transformation initiative at MedStar Health, a 6-billion-dollar regional health care system in the Washington, DC region. CEO Ken Samet’s goals include developing a cadre of grounded and conscious change leaders at every level of the organization which will ultimately lead to increased collaboration and performance.  Developing a leadership framework for the organization called MedStar Leader of the Future, this includes programs, experiences, assessments, personal development plans, coaching performance support, facilitator certification and other tools to accelerate learning with over 4000 people in their workforce including Physician Leaders. Click this to read the Healthy Companies/MedStar Health case study in People and Strategy.

About the Author:

Bob Rosen, CEO, Healthy Companies and Best-selling author of Grounded, How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World and CONSCIOUS, The Power of Awareness in Business and Life.

Healthy Companies helps CEOs, executive teams, and managers build and transform high-performance enterprises through consulting, coaching, and learning solutions. If you would like to learn more about becoming an Organization of the Future, please connect with us!

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About the Author

Bob Rosen, Ph.D.

Bob Rosen, Ph.D.

Bob Rosen is founder and CEO of The Healthy Leader and author of 8 best-selling leadership books, including Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World, a New York Times bestseller, and Conscious: The Power of Awareness in Business and Life, a Washington Post bestseller. At The Healthy Leader, we help develop leaders at all levels to improve their health, well-being, potential and performance.


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