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Gorilla Jobs Blog Tips To Building Productive Healthcare Staff Relationships Two Healthcare Workers Standing Close Next To Each Other

3 Tips to Building Productive Healthcare Staff Relationships

August 10, 2022 0 Comments

Your workmates don’t need to be your close friends, but the key to a well-run centre or clinic is fostering productive healthcare relationships.

Most of us spend a fair proportion of our time at work. To put that in perspective, 40-hour a week employees will spend around 9000 days at work, or ⅓ of their lifetime!

Given work takes up such a substantial chunk of our lives, having productive, healthy and friendly professional workplace relationships can be the difference between loving and despairing about your professional life.

And when it comes to productive healthcare relationships in a professional scenario where many do overtime in high-volume, high-stress situations, success can be predicated on paying attention to and working on building respectful and harmonious relationships between colleagues.

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Healthcare relationships and patient safety

Underpinning productive relationships is the modus operandi of a clinic – patient safety and optimising patient outcomes.

When the importance of this is recognised by the wider team and embedded in clinic culture, the chances of building more harmonious and productive staff relationships increases as the team works together for the good of the patient.

The Medical Board of Australia (Ahpra) has even gone so far as to codify this in Good medical practice: a code of conduct for doctors in Australia where it notes that mutual respect and clear communications between healthcare professionals leads to enhanced patient care.

In the USA, this is also seen in the “Relationship-Based Care” (RBC) model adopted by many nursing teams – “…a culture transformation model and an operational framework that improves safety, quality, patient satisfaction, and staff satisfaction by improving every relationship within an organisation.”

Patients themselves can also become acutely aware of how healthy relationships are within a clinical setting. Consider this simple ‘customer journey’ a patient goes on: In one visit to a clinic, they move from support staff at reception/front of house, to seeing a doctor or specialist, to doing other nurse-led healthcare as well. 

This patient experience means they see the clinic from several perspectives and in a more overarching way, so they either explicitly or implicitly get a sense of how well the team works together.

Gorilla Jobs Blog Tips To Building Productive Healthcare Staff Relationships Group Of People In Line Holding Hands and Hugging
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3 tips for productive healthcare relationships

Many of the methods, techniques or tips for building productive healthcare staff relationships are applicable to any organisation trying to ensure their teams are working optimally.

But here are the three we think are particularly pertinent to doctors and healthcare professionals.

1. Always emphasise patient outcomes

As noted above, while keeping patients at the heart of what healthcare professionals do should be a given, it can be a useful reminder in situations where colleagues differ over patient care, and can assist colleagues to come to resolutions that both support patient care and maintain respect between team members.

2. Hone EQ skills

While IQ plays a huge part in being a successful healthcare professional, emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) is just as critical in practice, and for managing both patient and in-clinic professional communications and relationships.

You can do a basic test of your EQ via Mindtools, which also gives some handy hints about the main EQ skills to work on, namely:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

3. Build trust

Trust is the foundation of any relationship, personal or professional, so it stands to reason that in a setting where patients are placing their trust in the healthcare professionals they are seeking help from, a similar level of trust must be felt between colleagues.

As with the emphasis on focussing on patient outcomes, this may seem as given in a healthcare setting, but as professionals come and go from a clinic or larger organisation, with this movement can come a range of professional opinions or methods that come from differences in training and views around patient care.

This presents as an opportunity to have open dialogue about trust and to acknowledge differing viewpoints while building relationships based on a firm belief and confidence in the reliability, integrity and ability of the wider team.

Trust can be built and strengthened by a:

  • Shared sense of purpose
  • Commitment to building a culture of trust linked to a clear and mutually agreed upon definition of trust
  • Management leaders who will champion the need for trust amongst the team

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