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New VUMC service education focuses on strategies to “power up” positivity

Dec. 2, 2019, 2:59 PM


by Jill Clendening

Projecting an attitude of gratitude and having a consistent practice of positivity can significantly impact the culture of an organization and how services are provided. The fourth module of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s multiyear service education initiative, Defining Personalized Care – Elevating Our Culture of Service, focuses on the effect positivity can bring to an individual’s own well-being and to those they serve, including colleagues.

“Defining Personalized Care: Power Up Positivity” (click here) is designed to support all VUMC employees to advance how we provide exceptional service to each other, our patients and their families. The newly launched module is centered around two Ted Talk-style presentations from well-respected and long-serving VUMC colleagues.

“This new segment of Defining Personalized Care – Elevating Our Culture of Service is presenting us with an exciting challenge,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC. “We all know from experience how someone else’s attitude can easily impact our own attitude, both positively and negatively. In “Power Up Positivity,” we emphasize how our own purposeful mindset creates positive ripples throughout our organization and it starts with each of us as individuals.”

In the “Positivity” video, Mary Scheib, senior consultant in VUMC’s Office of Patient Relations, shares how positivity begins with the messages you inwardly tell yourself that leave an impression on what you outwardly tell others. Scheib, a 12-year VUMC employee, encourages reframing communication in the affirmative, such as saying ‘what is’ rather than saying ‘what isn’t.’ She challenges everyone to intentionally focus on choosing positive words and phrases, as well as striking negative words, such as ‘but,’ from your vocabulary. Cognitive research has shown that using affirmative phrases rather than negative improves the mindset of both the speaker and the listener.

In the “Gratitude” video, clinical staff leader Marsha Sesay, RN, shares how she infuses her life with thankfulness and leads with an attitude of gratitude, which has shown to greatly enhance positivity both internally within the individual, as well as with colleagues. Sesay is a 17-year VUMC employee who works in Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital’s 9-North Surgical Stepdown Unit. She encourages people to transform how they communicate with colleagues by looking through the lens of gratitude, using ‘thank you’ instead of ‘I’m sorry.’

“Marsha and Mary are both exceptional role models for consistently showcasing positive behaviors, and we are fortunate they were able to share some their best with the rest of us here at VUMC,” said Brian Carlson, senior director of Patient Experience. “They’ve graciously shared their personal strategies for consistently achieving positivity and an attitude of gratitude and we hope these will help others strengthen our daily interactions with our colleagues, patients and patients’ families. It’s easy to see how this will lead to a chain reaction of positive experiences.”

“Recognize Others” is the final section and focuses on how to apply positivity and gratitude to show appreciation for the contributions of others. It offers simple tactics, such as ‘thank you’ or handwritten ‘Elevate cards’ and includes links to more resources available on the Elevate website. Also included are links and information on how to order Elevate cards, which are free-of-charge for all employees.

Both of the Ted Talk-style presentations are followed by interactive exercises to reinforce the lessons, and the entire module takes 10 minutes or less to complete.

Both leaders and staff will receive an invitation from Pinson via the Elevate Communications email address inviting them to complete “Defining Personalized Care: Power Up Positivity.”

All modules of the Defining Personalized Care — Elevating Our Culture of Service should be completed in order, as each component was designed to build on the next. The goal is to have all VUMC employees complete the new module by Feb. 1, 2020. The next segment is scheduled to roll out in spring 2020.

More information about Defining Personalized Care — Elevating Our Culture of Service is available at the Elevate website and the Human Resources website under the Leader Central tab.


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