Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Face of the Vorlon

"When you have doubt of your course in life, you need only look in the face of a Vorlon, and all doubt will be erased forever."

- Dukat, Babylon 5: In the Beginning

While it would be overstating that all doubt has been erased forever, a great deal of it has been relieved recently.

I knew it was time to leave bedside care, but I had lingering doubts as to whether taking the role of Clinical Program Coordinator for a Pacific Northwest hospital system's stroke program was the right move. What is my role? What to I bring to the table? What is my, for lack of a better word, mission?
Just a couple days ago, I "saw the face of the Vorlon." There's an initiative to get all the system's policies, procedures, and protocols "reformatted" into a consistent form. I figured this would be a good task for me to start with: it would allow me to become familiar with the policies and protocols, and it was work I could do without having to hit the ground as a "stroke expert."


The stroke program was originally the fiefdom of the program medical director and one nurse. The programs policies and protocols had to make sense to them and they were the only ones who needed to be able to explain it. Well, the one nurse retired, and her replacement has been trying to pick up the pieces. As we've been examining the various protocols, we've discovered a lot of vague wording, inconsistency, and formatting that is more complex than necessary.
The nurse education materials aren't much better. The stroke program's clinical nurse specialist and I have discovered that part of the reason neurological checks aren't being documented correctly on many stroke patients is because of conflicting education materials.


I know my strengths: analysis, systems thinking, tenacity, and a touch of OCD. The policies and protocols have to be, in themselves, a cohesive system in support of the larger system of the stroke program. Same goes for the nurse education information and materials. They aren't.

It looks like my role will be to make them such. I can't help but think that improving the policy and education infrastructure of the program will lead to better compliance and therefore, better patient outcomes. That may well be the OCD talking, but I believe it anyway.

The uncertainty of what I should be doing each day when I go in to work has vanished. I know what I need to do, and what I most quickly need to know. The doubt is gone.

Besides, I now have a purpose for which I can leverage my OCD. Since I'm no longer doing bedside critical care, I needed something!