[Histonet] RE: a Question of Ethics

TERRI BRAUD terribraud <@t> msn.com
Fri Aug 13 15:15:48 CDT 2004

I can certainly understand the frustration of working in new management 
position that does not offer the training and responsibilities to go with 
it. And while I support going over a manager's head when patient care is 
impacted, you also must ask yourself if the activity is being tolerated by 
the pathologist(s)? If so, then look for another job, because you MUST have 
the support of your medical staff.  Beyond that, I would encourage you to 
look for management training from outside sources, such as the program 
offered at the NSH convention, on-line courses in Quality Improvement and 
Laboratory Management, subscription to the Manager's edition of Advance, 
etc.  These will help give you the educational tools to get started, but 
they in no way will make you an effective leader. Speaking from 15 years of 
management experience, to be an effective leader you have to be out in 
front, not someone who just points the way. As for any job, this often means 
"paying dues" by performing "other" duties until you are accepted as part of 
the team. If this means you have to clean bathrooms or empty waste to show 
you are part of a team, then do it cheerfully for a time. If a team sees 
your willingness to perform the "nasty" tasks, then eventually they will be 
more willing to take on those tasks, and others, to free your time for 
management duties. Anyone can point to problems within any system, but the 
true leader is the one that offers concrete solutions and suggestions and is 
willing to go the extra miles to put them into place.  As we all know, 
Histology is a manual labor intensive process, prone to identity errors.  As 
a leader, you must provide your employees with a system that has enough 
system checks and double checks that limit their ability to make a mistake, 
or catch it before it impacts patient care. Then, when mistakes are made, 
use a carefully constructed system to document and to review the system 
process. Maybe these "mistake-prone" employees have suffered the same 
frustrations that you have, even to the point of not caring anymore. Have 
they been given the tools, the training, the education needed to perform 
their jobs accurately and with positive feedback? If you, as a new manager, 
are not being helped, how much do you think is trickling down to their 
level? I would guess very little.  This lab may or may not be the place to 
learn to be a supervisor, but it sounds like a place that is "ripe" for the 
picking.  Anyone can step into a smooth running lab, but having the 
opportunity to make a real difference in a poorly functioning lab is not as 
easy.  Laboratory administrators often come from a clinical background with 
very little AP experience and usually welcome the Histology Supervisor that 
comes in with fresh ideas to improve a lab's performance. Study process 
improvement. Offer well thought out, budget neutral suggestions for process 
improvement. And remember, being a supervisor means that your most important 
skill should be in "people management".  This means coming up with ways to 
inspire and empower your employees to do a better job! Good luck with your 
quest, where ever it takes you.
Terri L. Braud, HT(ASCP)
Surgical Pathology Manager
University of Virginia Health Systems
Charlottesville, VA 22908

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