December 2022 Partner Spotlight

Elena Garrett, MD, is Practicing Excellence’s Partner of the Month for December! Dr. Garrett is an emergency physician who, in her 13 years at Riverside Health System, rose to the rank of Service Line Chief of Emergency Medicine. She is also the Director of the Emergency Department and has helped in the implementation of Practicing Excellence’s Clinician Experience Project (CEP) at Riverside Health.

She and her team have seen immense benefits from utilizing CEP’s tips directly in their day-to-day. To see how they were able to effectively implement CEP in their work, read our interview with Dr. Garrett below!

How long have you been in medicine, and what are your favorite parts about it?

Including residency, I have been practicing medicine for 16 years. Something I keep top of mind every shift is our department’s “tag line:” We are the best part of your worst day. My favorite part about medicine has always been being able to quickly build a relationship with a patient and then intervening to help the sickest people as fast as possible. That’s why I am in the ER.


How has the Clinician Experience Program helped you as a clinician? 

The Well Being Program (the first program we utilized at Riverside) reminded me to extend some patience and grace to myself when interacting with patients. CEP also reminded me of communication skills I knew of but could be executed more effectively.


In what areas has your team improved the most? how do you know?

From an objective standpoint, we have seen a marked improvement in our ER HCAP metrics, with an increase of 38 percentage points in “ED Rating of Provider” and 21 percentage points in “Rate the Emergency Department” when comparing 2021 to 2022. 

More personally, I have noticed our providers doing a better job at remembering their self-care, which is reflected in their interactions with staff and patients. Our job is not getting any easier. We are busier than ever and have more challenges than we have had in the past, but still, I am watching the provider staff lead gracefully, and that is communicated in a lot of non-tangible ways in the patient interactions.


What have you done to engage your clinicians to prevent this from feeling like “one more thing?”

I will admit this has been a challenge. I think we have done a decent job at telling personal stories about pearls that were particularly helpful, and instead of it being about completing an entire program, it becomes about one small sound bite that has made a difference that day. For example: We are seeing a lot of patients in the hallways now, which is less than ideal, and in some cases, they are emotionally charged visits. One day, I was able to use some of the beside empathy tools I learned to calm a patient. I was a teaching attendant that day and went back with the resident on the case, described the tools that I used and the effect that it had, and suggested that the resident try it out sometime during their shift.


In what ways have you seen clinicians implement tips into their work?

I have noticed that providers are thanking the team members they are working with more often. It is becoming more prevalent: a simple thanks to the nurse or tech on your team or a colleague who came in to help bail you out of a hard case. I know that sounds “touchy-feely,” but they make a huge difference when you are in a stressful environment for so much of the time. What I see reflected back is that the staff then thanks the providers for being there, and a culture of gratitude is created. 

Another thing that has come from CEP is that I spend a lot more time thanking family members who have come to support my patient. Instead of thinking of them as someone else that I must communicate with, I see them as an opportunity to glean more vital information about the patient and, regardless of that, emphasize the value that their being there has for their loved one/my patient.

Thank you Dr. Garrett for sharing your story with us! We are so grateful to have you all as our partners and we look forward to what you accomplish next with the Clinician Experience Project!

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