Sterile processing week has arrived. The pizza parties, cookies, and banners are all waving proudly throughout our departments. When this week comes to a close we will sit here in our hospital basements waiting for the next 51 weeks to slide by until recognition hits again and our department comes into the spotlight once more. The impact of SP we know and understand is monumental, but how can we feel acknowledged, valued, and a critical component of patient care daily as we step into our scrubs, and personal protective equipment (PPE)? This article will outline ways we can keep what we do in the spotlight year-round.
Share your department’s work and contribution with the hospital marketing team, and human/personal resources departments.
Your hospital likely has a marketing team, and one that writes company newsletters and manages social media. These departments tend to focus on the “heavy lifters” in the hospital. Physicians, community outreach, and nurse recognition, all are great contributors and deserve the spotlight. Yet, sometimes not sharing what SP does isn’t a negligible offense, it’s simply they are unaware of all you do. Here are some suggestions for leadership. Identify who writes the company newsletter, and ask how to submit information about what your department contributes. Once this person is identified ask them what the frequency of the newsletter. Is it bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly? Following this knowledge ask if they are ever looking for submissions and hospital recognition gaps. Would they be open to a quarterly spotlight on what we do in SP? From there this is where it can get fun. You likely have an all-star technician in your department that is looking to rise. You can ask them if they would be interested in writing a short piece (ask marketing for their desired word count) once a quarter. They can then brainstorm ideas with coworkers and snap some great photos of the team for the next newsletter. This will do a few things. It will make this all-star tech feel valued, and it will stir department excitement in knowing that recognition exists even when it’s not October. Once the newsletter is published you can print it on heavy card stock and put it in the break room to celebrate, heck maybe even swing by the store and grab some cupcakes for the team to celebrate recognition.
Create your own interdepartmental recognition program.
It’s been said that a high percentage of employees are more motivated by praise and commendation from managers than even cash perks.
Try nominating a monthly SP tech of the month award. You can have a box in the department where staff can nominate coworkers for the award. Pre-printed nomination cards can be left by the box to include blanks for who they wish to nominate, why this candidate deserves recognition and one way they’ve gone above and beyond lately. A deadline can be set, for example; by the 15th of each month for nominations are due for the next month. Or if you think this might create unintended tension you can have a decontamination all-star, a rep pan all-star, and a sterilizer guru. Make it fun and get your staff involved. The key here is we are recognizing each other and celebrating wins often. You can have an old-school Polaroid, or photo printer in the department and a rotating corkboard with frames, that the all-stars can be swapped out on with little effort and time invested. Making recognition a priority will help staff feel valued, and anticipatory.
Create a “Caught Caring” program (peer-to-peer recognition)
This is similar to an employee of the month, and individual employee awards but is focused on your hospital’s mission statement and core values. This can be an annual award, or monthly. If are honest most of us couldn’t state what our hospital’s mission and core values are, yet we should really know them and celebrate these values and make them part of our focus. This program can replace the employee individual awards, or act as a bonus MVP award. The board would include in bold the mission statement and core values of your organization. Next comes the award cards. Setting this up is simple: prepare feedback forms, spread them around the staff, and reward those deserving it.
These are just three ideas, and the ways to recognize staff and highlight your departments don’t have to cost anything but time and care. Let’s see our department celebrated, and let’s create our own recognition. It doesn’t have to be SP week to celebrate and be celebrated. We can create an environment of recognition day in and day out, and a sincere “thank you” or “I appreciate you” may be the simplest form of recognition that exists. We don’t have to wait to be recognized and feel appreciated, we get to create that for our departments. Now go out and show appreciation, and make the conscious decision to be your most productive member of your SP team today.
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