July 8, 2005

Professional conduct standards take shape

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Professional conduct standards take shape

Concise, concrete answers about what we should expect from each other at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are bundled in a new document titled Credo Behaviors.

“The credo behaviors define what professional conduct is all about at VUMC,” said Gerald B. Hickson, M.D., co-chair of the team that helped a broad selection of staff and faculty produce the document. “We can write a credo and we may all nod our heads and say we agree, but what does it really mean until it's operationalized in a set of specific behaviors? It's our expectation that people at VUMC are going to live by these standards,” Hickson said.

The Credo Behaviors are part of elevate, the wide-ranging VUMC improvement effort that began last November.

The VUMC credo is a short statement of values that was adopted 10 years ago. Credo Behaviors expands on the Credo and is the product of six months of recent work by the elevate Standards and Service Recovery Team. The 32 standards listed in the document were distilled from discussions with approximately 600 faculty and staff about professionalism, service and the desired organizational culture of VUMC.

Those who were consulted included a random selection of top scorers on recent staff job evaluations who were recommended for the project by their department chairmen. The resulting document was recently approved by the elevate steering committee.

With leader accountability being the basis for elevate, the expectation is for leaders individually to live by and uphold the new standards, team members said.

“Ultimately the standards have to become habit, have to become who we are,” said Wendy S. Leutgens, co-chair of the team behind the document.

A large-scale communications effort is planned. Leaders and supervisors have been asked to talk with their work groups about the standards.

The standards will be part of a planned elevate kit for managers, and will be added to staff and faculty orientation programs. Also, the standards are designed to be used in job evaluations of staff and faculty.

“It's not sufficient simply to be introduced to the standards,” Hickson said. “We need to create policies to ensure accountability. If we're going to have principles of behavior, then we should judge ourselves against them.”

VUMC Credo

We provide excellence in healthcare, research and education.

We treat others as we wish to be treated.

We continuously evaluate and improve our performance.

Credo Behaviors

I make those I serve my highest priority:

• promote the health and well being of all patients who seek care at Vanderbilt

• support trainees in all of their academic endeavors

• respect the values of others and treat them with dignity, respect and compassion

• recognize that every member of the Vanderbilt team makes important contributions

• ensure that all team members understand overall team goals and their roles

• answer questions posed by patients, students or staff to ensure understanding and facilitate learning

I have a sense of ownership:

• take any concern (real, perceived, big, or small) seriously and seek resolution or understanding — ask for help if the concern is beyond ability or scope of authority

• approach those who appear to need help or be lost and assist/direct them appropriately

• clean up litter, debris and spills promptly or notify the best resource to keep the medical center environment clean and safe

• remain conscious of the enormous cost of health care, teaching and research and optimize resources while delivering exemplary service

I conduct myself professionally:

• adhere to department and medical center policies such as attendance and dress code

• refrain from loud talk and excessive noises — a quiet environment is important to heal, learn and work.

• discuss internal issues only with those who need to know and refrain from criticizing Vanderbilt in the workplace and in the community

• continue to learn and seek new knowledge to enhance skills and ability to serve

• strive to maintain personal well-being and balance of work and personal life

I respect privacy and confidentiality:

• only engage in conversations regarding patients according to Vanderbilt policies and regulatory requirements

• discuss confidential matters in a private area

• keep written/electronic information out of the view of others

• knock prior to entering a patient's room, identify myself, and ask permission to enter

• utilize doors/curtains/blankets as appropriate to ensure privacy and will explain to the patient why I am doing this, ask permission prior to removing garments or blankets

I communicate effectively:

• introduce myself to patients/families/visitors, colleagues

• wear my ID badge where it can be easily seen

• smile, make eye contact, greet others, and speak in ways that are easily understood and show concern and interest; actively listen

• recognize that body language and tone of voice are important parts of communication

• respond and listen to dissatisfied patients, families, visitors and/or colleagues

• remain calm when confronted with or responding to pressure situations

I am committed to my colleagues:

• contribute to my work group in positive ways and continuously support the efforts of others

• view all colleagues as equally important members of the Vanderbilt team, regardless of job, role or title

• treat colleagues with dignity, respect and compassion

• promote interdepartmental cooperation

• recognize and encourage positive behaviors

• provide private constructive feedback for inappropriate behaviors

* Trainees include but are not limited to medical students, nursing students, residents, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows.