By Lydia Kleinschnitz
After a busy, chaotic day in the imaging department, have you ever stopped and wondered how you made it through? Was your next thought then, “How can I do this again tomorrow?” That is exactly what happened to me. An eventful workday started after an unsatisfying sleep. After dressing, I went downstairs for that all important first cup of coffee of the day. I poured the coffee into my cup and collected my bags. I took my bags, placed them into the car and started out. After several blocks I realized that I left the full coffee cup right on the counter where I had poured it. At that point I knew the day would be a challenging one.
When I arrived at work, the pages and the email started to pile up. The messages consisted of issues that all directors are probably familiar with: call offs, missing supplies, outpatient scheduling problems and on and on. During the past several months, staffing turnover and increased COVID-19 inpatient volume have been our major focus. On this day, probably because of my lack of coffee, every issue seemed magnified. Working with our very talented leadership team we worked through the day’s staffing shortages by shifting dual registered techs to modalities where they were greatly needed. Some supervisors also worked the front line. Most importantly, we had to keep the communication open with our outpatients about the schedule and any possible delays. As a director, I would much rather spend my day strategizing, capital equipment planning or planning for future imaging initiatives. Sometimes, however, these difficult days pop up. Lately it seems they are popping up more often.
After a day like I described, I have found that remembering why I decided to make health care my career or simply put, “the why”, has helped me get up the next morning to face it all again. If I remember what inspired me to take this journey, the day’s burden doesn’t seem so heavy. For me, my “why” comes from my father and the fact that I really enjoy helping people and making a difference. My dad was a Navy Corpsman assigned to a MASH unit during the Korean war. He often spoke of the care soldiers received there. Those stories inspired me to go into the field of nursing, ultimately ending up in imaging.
When I remember the care patients need and what we do as an imaging team to provide diagnostic information that is critical for treatments, it drives me through the day. It inspires me to work and continue to provide the resources that my imaging teams need to do their job. Likewise, I have found that reminding staff to think about their “why” helps them to press through hard times. During staff meetings, I ask individuals to share their why story in hopes that it will help others on the team to reflect and recall.
I don’t believe the staffing challenges and overall hospital staff shortages we are experiencing in western Pennsylvania are unique. I know staffing shortages and patient volumes are of great concern to other imaging departments across the country. As we face these difficult times, now is the time to remember your “why” to help you press on. Remembering why you do what you do will help you to continue to support your team in providing that vital high-quality imaging care.
Lydia Kleinschnitz, MHA, BSN, RN, is the senior director of imaging services at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside.