When I first started working in my current role as an educator, leadership determined there was a patient safety concern related to the moderate sedation practices in the gastrointestinal (GI) lab. Leadership wanted to send the message to the caregivers that the current sedation practices were not compliant with policy and patients were receiving large doses of sedation, which they worried would eventually lead to patient harm or even patient death. The director of surgical services asked me to communicate the change in practice via a power point presentation at the GI caregivers meeting. According to Gifu, Dima, & Teodorescu (2014), “communication requires a sender, a message, a medium and a recipient” (p. 47). In this scenario nurse management is the sender, the message is the need to change moderate sedation practices, the medium is the power point presentation, and the recipients are the GI lab caregivers.
While the message seemed like it was a simple message, management did not take into account the external climate when they chose to address the sedation issues. Management asked me to deliver the message during a transition time where caregivers were upset with the changes taking place in the department. The GI caregivers were also worried about their jobs during this time because they heard rumors about the meeting with leadership and understood the purpose of the meeting was to scold the nurses for not following policy and possibly fire policy offenders. Marquis & Huston reported that “perception of the message is altered greatly depending on the climate that exists at the time the message was sent or received” (p. 439).
During the sedation talks, caregivers were visibly upset and even verbally raised concerns of being fired for not following policy or working outside their scope of practice. I took the feedback from the meeting to nursing leadership and follow-up meetings were scheduled to communicate to caregivers that the only reason for the change was to be compliant with policy and create a safe environment for the patients. While the message was clear, management did not choose a great time to deliver the message. “Effective communication requires paying attention to an entire process, not only the content of the message” (Benjamin, 2016, para 3). Management did not pay close attention to the current climate in the GI lab when deciding when to deliver the message to the caregivers.
Making Communication More Effective
There are two things I think that could have made the initial delivery of the message better. The first is management should have delivered the message or been present at the staff meeting to answer questions and reassure the purpose of the message. I also think management should have been more aware of the climate in the GI lab and not presented the changes to current practice during the time caregivers were already upset with other issues within the department.