Coffee Break - Mary Beth Kingston

EP 19: The Key to Comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention

Summary: 

Workplace violence isn’t just physical. It includes bullying and incivility and also impacts the safety, environment, and health of everyone involved.

In this episode, Mary Beth Kingston, Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Advocate Health, shares her experiences managing an emergency department in a large urban hospital, emphasizing the escalating problem of violence in healthcare. Mary Beth underscores the impact of physical violence, bullying, and incivility on healthcare workers, teammates, caregivers, and patients. Emphasizing the multifaceted nature of workplace violence, she calls for comprehensive safety programs, leadership engagement, and collaboration among safety teams, clinical teams, and risk groups. Mary Beth advocates for a strategic approach that combines data-driven business cases with emotional appeals, involving prevention infrastructure, facility safety assessments, and fostering a positive culture through understanding and empathy.

Tune in and learn how addressing workplace violence is crucial for a safer and more inclusive workplace culture!

About Mary Beth Kingston:

Mary Beth Kingston is the Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Advocate Health, overseeing nursing strategy and patient experience across 68 hospitals in multiple states. With over a decade at Advocate Aurora Health, including the role of CNO, she led nursing practice and standards. Kingston is known for establishing a collaborative governance structure, and fostering a flexible nursing workforce. 

Beyond her current role, she serves on the boards of Providence St. Joseph Health and Maine Line Health. She holds a Ph.D. in health policy, a master’s in nursing, and a bachelor’s in nursing. As a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow and a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, she’s board-certified as an advanced nurse executive. Kingston chairs the Hospitals Against Violence Advisory Board for the American Hospital Association and received the American Assembly for Men in Nursing Inclusion and Diversity Award in 2020. 

Her dedication to addressing workplace violence and promoting inclusion and diversity underscores her impactful contributions to the nursing profession.

Coffee Break_Mary Beth Kingston: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Coffee Break_Mary Beth Kingston: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Renee Thompson:
Plants thrive and grow in a peaceful, nourished environment, right? Well, it's the same with human beings. But what if that environment is not so peaceful? What if it's toxic? Welcome to Coffee Break: Breaking the Cycle of Bullying in Healthcare – One Cup at a Time. In this podcast, you'll get practical, evidence-based strategies to help you cultivate and sustain a healthy and respectful work culture by tackling an age-old problem in healthcare: bullying and incivility. I am your host, Doctor Renee Thompson.

Renee Thompson:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to the Coffee Break podcast. As you know, in this podcast, we chat about how to cultivate a healthy work culture by tackling bullying and incivility. But did you know that bullying and incivility are really considered workplace violence? Yes, I look at workplace violence as this umbrella term that includes physical violence, bullying, incivility, and other disruptive behaviors. Now, you may be a frontline leader responsible for a department, or a CNO responsible for an entire hospital, and you may be trying to tackle workplace violence, especially now, but how do you approach this from a systems level? And that's what we're going to talk about today with our guest, Doctor MaryBeth Kingston, the system's Chief Nursing Officer at Advocate Health. So, MaryBeth, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to Coffee Break.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Thank you so much. I'm just delighted to be here.

Renee Thompson:
Well, we're delighted to have you because you've done just such incredible work, and not just at Advocate Health, but really understanding workplace violence in healthcare. And so we're going to dig into having a chit-chat with you about what you've been able to do. But I wanted to let you know a little bit more about MaryBeth. She is the Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Advocate Health. She previously held roles as CNO for Advocate Aurora Health and Aurora Health. She's done this for the last ten years, where she served as a member of the executive leadership team and was also responsible for nursing practice and standards, as well as the patient experience. Prior to joining Aurora Health, she served in a variety of clinical and administrative roles, including system nursing leadership, Vice President of Operations, and President of a healthcare consulting firm. Mary Beth is currently serving on the board of trustees of the American Hospital Association, where she chairs the Hospitals Against Violence Advisory Board, which I absolutely love. She recently joined the boards of Providence Saint Joseph's Health and Mainline Health Systems. She, in 2020, was a recipient of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing Inclusion and Diversity Award and a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Fellow. Finally, okay, she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in 2020. That's a lot! You've certainly held really important roles in your career as a nurse, and I love the fact that not only were you currently involved in looking at workplace violence and what we can do about it, but also looking at inclusion and diversity. So thank you so much for your good work.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Yeah, it's a big piece of it. You know, the interesting thing is I'm just finishing up my term on the American Hospital Association board, and I got involved in that mainly through my work with AONL, the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, and both of the organizations, AONL is part of AHA, have done really tremendous work. There's a lot of resources about violence in the healthcare workplace. So I would encourage our listeners to check both of those out.

Renee Thompson:
Yes. I'm looking right now at a lot of the organizations, the associations are putting a stake in the ground when it comes to workplace violence and really putting the efforts, the support, the resources into helping their members, helping employees really tackle this issue. And I'm curious how you got involved in really looking at workplace violence, because as a Chief Nursing Officer, as an executive, oh my, there are so many areas that you could have focused on, and I'm sure, you know, workplace violence isn't the only thing going on. However, how did you get so involved in this topic?

MaryBeth Kingston:
Oh boy, I won't go back too far, but certainly, I worked as a nurse at the bedside and had my own experiences. But I also managed the emergency department of a large urban hospital, and so saw not just violence that occurred, physical violence and intimidation and all of those things, but the effect that violence, that patients who experience violent events had on the people providing care. So it covers so much of so many areas. And I think it's a huge societal issue that keeps growing. And then you put people in a vulnerable situation, and we've really just seen it carry over. I had one experience. I'm originally from Philadelphia, and when I went out to the Midwest, I was meeting with a group of Chief Nursing Officers, and I was sitting with them, and I told them about one really difficult incident that we had had at one of our hospitals. And all of a sudden, a nurse from another region said, Oh, well, we had this happened, and someone else said, we had this happened. And I realized this is many years ago, but I realized that we really didn't have systems in place to really talk about this and to understand what was happening. And I do think that for many years, because hospitals are a place of healing, we really didn't want to focus on violence, and that has totally changed. I think with the increase that we're seeing, and almost every organization that I'm involved in, and certainly my own, has this as one of their top priorities to protect their healthcare workers, their teammates, their caregivers, and as well as patients. You know, it's not just about healthcare workers, healthcare teammates, nurses. It's about everyone in that whole environment and keeping everyone safe.

Renee Thompson:
Yes. Oh my. Well, you mentioned the ED. So we know that workplace, the physical violence shows up more in the emergency department probably than in any other type of department in healthcare. And my husband, law enforcement, he's retired, he used to do a lot of training on workplace violence prevention. It wasn't active shooter training, but it was how to prevent workplace violence. And most of the work that he did when, you know, he was a detective and working for the city of Pittsburgh, actually, he did a lot of work with the emergency departments, or those were the people who would reach out and really asking for help, and then he would do some work with the hospital. He did a lot with home care agencies and helping their employees to be safe. But you're right, and I mentioned earlier about this as an umbrella term: it is not only the bullying, the physical violence, the incivility, but you also have to take a look at it from the perspective of, it's the people too, and it's the employees who are providing the care, it's the patients who are receiving care, it's the family members who are there with their loved ones, stressed out because this might be the first time that their loved one needed medical attention. It's not to make excuses for some of their bad behavior, but. So I'm curious in your work, when you're looking at workplace violence as a whole and what you've seen out there, are people talking more about the violence from patients and their family members or the violence, and I'll say, quote-unquote, violence from the people who they work with?

MaryBeth Kingston:
I would say they're talking much more about the violence that occurs, and it's primarily visitor, patient, and team member. And, you know, if you look at the different categories that we have for violence and where it comes from, the vast majority of the cases do fall into that category. You know, another type of violence is someone that's unknown to the organization that comes in with bad intent. Not that common, however, could have really far-reaching effects. I think what's not recognized as much. So people are talking about that, and we're doing things about that. What I don't think is recognized enough across the board are the area that you tend to focus on, and that's the bullying and incivility. And we know that people say their primary source of support in the workplace is their coworkers and their immediate leaders. So we have to pay attention to that. I don't think people recognize always, well, you recognize it when it's happening to you, but I'm not sure even many of our leaders recognize it when they see it, because they don't categorize it as violence. And we have to support our frontline managers in helping to recognize it and give them strategies to deal with it. And sometimes, it's the way a particular unit might have been run for a long time.

Renee Thompson:
Right. Oh, that's just the way it is and yeah.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Though I think we're getting past that, Renee, a little bit because I think the bullying we're not, but with violence, we're definitely moving beyond. I think people used to think that's part of the job. Now they're, with the increase, they're saying no, no, no, no. So that's a good news.

Renee Thompson:
And you make a really good point. People separate workplace violence from bullying and incivility. And what we're saying is, no, they're all part of, again, that umbrella term, and this is exactly why I had worked with someone years ago, and she now works for the Joint Commission. She specifically invited me to be on their workplace violence task force, which I am right now, because everybody was talking about physical violence. And she said, No, violence shows up in other ways, too. It's bullying, it's incivility. It's all these other things that also impacts the safety, the environment, you know, the safety of our employees and our patients. And I think that's so important that leaders who are trying to tackle this understand that you can't separate them. The tactics for them may be a little different today. However, you have to address all of it. And so really curious: what have you seen that has worked? And when I say work, I don't mean, yep, we're done. Good. Yep. Solved that problem.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Solved that issue. Yeah, yeah, you know, the other thing about before I jump into that that's interesting, is I think we're beginning to recognize the impact of the verbal intimidation or just yelling and calling people names. I had a nurse say to me once, I dread coming in because I know I'm going to be caring for someone that is going to be saying things. And she said, We don't tolerate that in other parts of our society on a long-term basis. And so, but again, we're not like every other part of our society. We're caring for people who are vulnerable. So a couple of things that I think are really important to mention. One is, in my mind, it has to be part of the overall safety program. So as you well know, patient safety, job one, super important, but we focus so much on patient safety that sometimes we fail to realize the impact that workplace safety has on that. And I mean, it's common sense. If you don't feel safe, it's hard to concentrate on giving the best care. So we think ensuring that we incorporate that into the overall safety program is key. Secondly, engagement of the leadership, the board, and our senior leaders. It has to have the attention of leaders at that level in the organization, and that speaks volumes to those who are at the point of care. I just spoke with a group this morning who's, you know, and our CEO is committed to doing these X, Y, and Z things and implementing this program. I mean, it really has an impact, and people want to hear that everyone knows about it, and here's how we're going to tackle it. The other thing is, you have to have some kind of infrastructure because leadership development is really important, but many times, we pull together groups to solve these issues, and there are folks that are super busy and have other jobs, and they're doing the best they can, but it really helps to have someone who is responsible for pulling all of these people together. And by that, I don't mean that you don't include everyone. You've got to have your safety and security folks and your clinical teams and risk and all of those groups. But you've got to have somebody leading it and moving it forward, and it requires resources. So there are things you can do. But to really make a dent, you've got to say, Okay, here's what we need to do, and you've got to put resources there. And then lastly, I think one of the most important things is engaging with team members, staff, individuals at the point of care and getting their ideas and finding out from them number one, what's happening because we know there's underreporting and we can talk about that, and the second thing is not just getting their ideas about what's happening, but getting their ideas for solutions, because many times they will be like, I'll think something is fabulous, and they'll say, Well, you know, I know you might think that, but here's another scenario that I wouldn't have thought of. So I just think that with nurses and everyone else finding out, number one, where the pain points are, and number two, what some ideas they might have about how you can approach that.

Renee Thompson:
Wow. Okay. We need to unpack this. This is really good. All right, so I'm going to go back to the first one you talked about. Really, what I heard you say was, you have to make safety a strategic priority. It really has to be embedded into your strategic goals. It has to be front and center as a priority for the organization, not so, I look at it as a need to have, not a nice to have. And then you had mentioned executives and having sort of their buy-in. I think those two can go hand-in-hand where if you have some executives that see it as a nice to have and not a need to have, then it's difficult to actually get the resources and get the support that you need. So do you have any recommendations for how to get that executive-level support and buy-in to actually focus and put the resources together for something like workplace violence?

MaryBeth Kingston:
Sure. I mean, there's two things: appeal to the head and appeal to the heart. I'll take the head first. So the head is, there's a business case for this. You can look at a number of the studies. And we've had a ton of studies done recently about why nurses leave the workforce. This issue is one of the top things that are listed, and we all know the cost of turnover and the cost of all the different types of staffing models that we have. And you can also, even though we know, again, things are underreported, you can look at the actual worker's comp cases, and you can look at days lost from work and the amount of money that we spend when actual injuries occur, which is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's happening. But that turnover is key. So there's lots of things you can pull in to make the business case. I find that people do respond to the heart as well. When leaders understand how people feel and what's been happening, I mean, there are a million stories we could tell that just would curl your hair. But letting them know when something occurs, many times our leaders will reach out to people to let them know, Hey, we know that this happened, here's what we're doing, and we're providing support to you, which is another important piece. But I think you have to appeal to the head and the heart, and there's a business case that you can easily make using your own data. That's the thing that I think is really powerful.

Renee Thompson:
It's funny, you said the head and the heart. I say left brain, right brain.

MaryBeth Kingston:
You have that too.

Renee Thompson:
But it's the exact same thing. You have your left brain people, show me the numbers, show me the data, and you have your internal data, and of course, the external data. But then the stories, and, you know, if your mom was a patient in this organization, would this be okay with you? You know, if your child, we tend to want to tap into that emotional side of human beings. But it's interesting, some of the work that we do, one of our strategies is, if we're working with a couple of departments in an organization, and we're transforming the department from bullying and incivility to respectful and professional, one of our strategies is we ask the executives to round in those departments so that they're there. They ask them, Tell me about Healthy Workforce. Tell me what you're working on. And I see that when you have an executives to really show the team that they're committed, that this is not just another flavor of the month, Oh, somebody read an article or went to a conference somewhere, and now we have to focus on this piece, but to really show that executive support, look at senior leaders. Actually, and I love what you said when there is an incident for one of the senior leaders to actually reach out to that person and say, Hey, I know what happened. Are you okay? And I think it's so important, again, for sustainability, for buy-in, you know, across the whole organization, it really starts at the top. It does.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Yeah, and I do think that that whole support thing has to be, we sometimes do across the board nationally a very good job at the support when something happens. But what we do know is that when something does happen, even as, you know, bullying and incivility, if that's happening consistently, that effect goes far beyond the initial healing of whatever visible impact might be there. And so, what do we have set up to help wrap support around individuals on a longer-term basis? And I think that ties into the whole well-being piece. How do we promote a healthy work environment and the health and well-being of those providing care?

Renee Thompson:
Yes, because it's not just, an incident happened, or somebody was being treated poorly by a physician, or somebody in another department was screamed and yelled at in front of other people. It's not just that initial, it's ongoing because we know when human beings are embarrassed, they felt threatened, they were humiliated, any of those really intense negative emotions, you will never forget it.

MaryBeth Kingston:
I was going to say, my mind's going back to a few situations.

Renee Thompson:
I'm thinking of a few things too. You will never forget it. So it's not.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Any more pleasant.

Renee Thompson:
Well, and sometimes people hang onto that to the point where it affects them mentally, physically, emotionally for a long time. So how do you circle back when there was an incident, or circle back with someone who finally was brave enough, had the courage enough to say, I'm being treated this way? Because I read this study, it was a little while ago, that 40% of all targets of bullying never tell anyone. So you may have people in your organization right now who are dealing with this, who aren't saying a word, so you can't reach out to them and say, Hey, I know what's happening. Are you okay? So it's not just, as we say, a one-and-done. It's having, and you mentioned this too, your third strategy was making sure that you have the infrastructure there to make sure that it's set up to obviously prevent, okay, and that's a whole other conversation, but then what happens when there's an incident, but then what do you do afterwards and who is involved? And so can you tell us a little bit more about setting up a viable infrastructure so that you can maintain your strategies ongoing?

MaryBeth Kingston:
Yeah, I mean, I think it starts with having that interprofessional and inter-departmental group come together. So it's not just a nursing piece, and it's not just a security piece, but it's so important to bring these clinical and safety professionals together, so that, to me, is key. And you've got to have baseline policies for how you're going to do things. And then some of the prevention and mitigation pieces can be difficult because there's not a ton of research out there. So we know kind of intuitively what works. We moved to metal detectors because even though that's not the most frequent thing, but if something should happen and someone came in with a gun, something that would be awful. And the technology is getting better for that, there's mass detection systems out there and that kind of thing. So there's lots of ways you can begin to embed the infrastructure. First of all, foundational policies, consistency, having someone responsible, the leadership. And then your data may not always tell the story because, as I mentioned, reporting, you just talked about reporting of bullying and incivility. The same is true. And again, I think it used to be very much it's part of my job. Now, I think it's, I just don't have time to fulfill all these different task forms that I have to fill out. So how do we make that easier? So the data is important, but you don't want to totally wait until the data arrives. But doing assessments within your own organization really taking that the facility safety, looking at that, identifying where you have gaps and what needs to be done, and investing in training, I think, is the other key piece. So people come into organizations, sometimes there's reasons that they're angry or aggressive, but for the most part, we also have some things that are set up within our healthcare system to frustrate people at times. This is not, this is everywhere across the nation. And that's even a separate piece of it, is how do we improve that? But training people to say, and this goes for staff as well as for patients and families, Let's approach people with an understanding or trying to understand about what they've experienced and approach them that way. I sometimes think that we, you know, this is such a huge issue that if we're afraid that everyone that we interact with is going to react in a certain way, that just sets up a dynamic that's not positive for anyone. So training whatever type of de-escalation training the organization decides is an excellent investment in trying to build this culture, which is part of the infrastructure. But you've also got to have groups of people working, identifying the areas that need improvement, and then putting forth the recommendations for what we need to do. So again, the recommendations could be different, but regular and routine assessments, a threat assessment program. When someone makes a credible threat, like there's a formal process you can go through and that engages the community, your local law enforcement too. That's a little bit different than a risk assessment: where are your risks? And then there's lots of other pieces, whether it's the mobile alerts, all of those type of things that you have to gauge within your organization, behavioral response teams, really just demonstrating support, helping people to prevent it, and then implementing some things also to keep people safe in case aggression does increase. I think there's just some of that infrastructure I think that has to be built.

Renee Thompson:
Well, and you're so right. You have to have the infrastructure, but then it also can't be a one-and-done. You can't set it up and say, Okay, let it take care of it.

MaryBeth Kingston:
It's ongoing, absolutely ongoing, and that's a key thing. You don't just say, Oh, we're done. Because things change, situations change, people change. It's just super important to have all of these aspects.

Renee Thompson:
When we start working with the client, we're in it for the long haul. So there's some of the work that we do, we work hip-to-hip with the leaders, the physicians, the whole team, and we're there for a year beyond. We tell them, Yes, we have a system that we implement. It's a four-phased system, journey to a healthy work culture: you address bullying, incivility, and you actually set behavioral expectations and you hardwire and sustain, you know, the new norm. But I always tell them, even from the beginning, Here's the deal: this isn't a one time you're going to go through this system, and then, Bye! You're good. The journey that you're on, you never really arrive. You're always working on it. Because, as you said, MaryBeth, things change, people change, things show up. And to have that mindset, and I love that type of mindset where we're working on this. So in my world, we, especially bullying, incivility, and incivility mostly, if there's a lot of gossip in a department, you don't say, Okay, zero tolerance for gossip, no gossip, nobody better gossip. You know, you're going to be terminated if you gossip or roll your eyes, well, then nobody would be employed. Okay, everybody.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Or you say something and say, What was that? Gossip?

Renee Thompson:
… in trouble now. No. You say, You know, there's a lot of gossip here. This is something, let's work on this, okay? Where do we start? How about no gossiping in the patient's rooms? Why don't we just start there? And then how about the hallway? And then let's branch into the, you know, centralized nurse's station? Where I don't know why, people think there's this invisible force field around them that nobody can hear what you're saying. Everybody hears you.

MaryBeth Kingston:
I can!

Renee Thompson:
Especially patients and their families. They listen because they think you're talking about them, and sometimes we are. But to have that mindset that this is something that's important, you're going to invest the time, the energy, the people, the resources, and it's something that's going to be ongoing. It's not like, Okay, 2024 plan is we're going to create a safe environment. 2025 we're going to work on something else. It has to be sustainable. It has to be ongoing. And your fourth strategy was really involving your employees. We talked a little bit about that already, but what are some ways that you've seen be successful in getting employees to engage in this work and to open up knowing that they're equally as busy?

MaryBeth Kingston:
Yeah, I have not had any issue with people opening up about workplace violence. I don't find the same thing with bullying and incivility. So that's the interesting thing. So we obviously, we use our shared governance network for nursing, particularly in open forums. And we, at different sites, we have teams. So we have a system now, a whole enterprise workplace violence team, and we have one in each region and then each site has one. And so the communication channels, we're strengthening them, but so the issues are raised up, discussions, recommendations. And so that communication is going up and down. So I think that's a great way to be able to do it. I think for bullying and incivility, I think getting people in small groups, I mean, if you're in a large forum and ask someone, Hey, have you experienced that? They're just not going to raise their hands. And I will tell you, when I would do a newsletter every month and when I would write something on lateral violence or bullying and incivility, I would have the highest response to anything else that I ever put out there of people saying, Hey, I have experienced this, I really want to do something about it. Most, I find now that many of the nurses and others that I'm working with want to be engaged and involved and want to do something about this. But I do think, going back to kind of not the infrastructure but some of the things you have to do to prevent, I think, assessment and understanding the issue, and that's part of talking to everyone is so important. We have assessment tools now for patients. We just have to make sure they're not biased. And we have to make sure that we have a plan for, okay, you've assessed, now what are we going to do? The same is true with the bullying and incivility. So you identify it, and you kind of might be a different look on a different unit, but then what's the plan, and how do you move forward? So I think that that understanding piece is key. And I think our folks at the point of care can really help us in that regard.

Renee Thompson:
Oh, they're critical. I always say you can't put a group of senior leaders in a conference room and sit around talking about how you're going to address workplace violence, bullying, and incivility if you're not going to include the people who are at the front line, people who are there at 2:00 in the morning. When they don't have the senior leadership team there, it's making sure that you're including them, empowering them to be part of the solution, and it really sounds like you've done an amazing job with this. Although I think what's also amazing is you're smart enough to recognize that you're not done yet, that you still.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Oh, and can I tell you? I didn't do it, and we're still in process in many things, but these are very committed individuals within our organization that feel passionate about these. I'm an executive sponsor, but there are other people leading the charge here: nursing leaders, both of our behavioral health nursing leaders in each region, our security and safety leaders. We've just appointed a physician who is an emergency medicine physician to take the lead as well, and to be able to say to people, We've got these folks that are dedicated to this. And I think that's one of the reasons we're making progress.

Renee Thompson:
You know, it reminds me. I think it was Steve Jobs who said this: The goal is to hire smart people and then get out of their way.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Well, that's what I did. I didn't even necessarily hire them. I had just happened to be fortunate to work with them.

Renee Thompson:
Yes, but identify the people who can be a part of a team, who, someone who's, you know, people who are passionate about this, who have the skill set to be able to actually execute strategies and give them the support that they need. And it's not to say, Step out, I'm done, you're on your own. But to just be that guide on the side for them, I think, is so incredibly valuable. So as we wrap up, MaryBeth, this has just, first of all, been fantastic. I love the strategies and the pieces that I think anyone who's listening right now can take back to their organization and start to implement. But if we had a listener right now that maybe they don't have anything in place, there's no structure, where would you recommend they begin? Like, what's the first step?

MaryBeth Kingston:
I think the first step is gaining the support of senior leadership and really creating an awareness that this is an issue. And again, many times, you may not have the data that you need to be able to say, Hey, here's how many incidents, but you can use the stories that you're seeing and what's happening. I think today, I don't think that's a hard thing. I think today, most leaders in almost every organization understand that this is an issue. But also to come to say, We've got to raise this up along with the rest of our safety program and have some beginning ideas of here's the first things we need to do. And it may be bumping up the training program would be an important thing. The difficult thing with the tactics about combating, mitigating, and preventing workplace violence is you can't just do one thing and say, Hey, you know, okay, this is going to make a difference. There are different things that work, but it's really a comprehensive plan that has to come together. A lot of it has to do with your culture as well, and really approaching things in that trauma-informed care manner. And a lot of that, it can start, training it's not going to fix everything, but that can be a start. It's very visible. And then I think getting some quick wins is also a good idea. If there's a, you know, identifying high priority areas where maybe there's something physical that needs to be fixed. I think that then begins to build credibility. But there's really a whole host of things that have to come together to prevent and to at least mitigate workplace violence.

Renee Thompson:
I think that's such wise advice, and it actually goes back to your head and your heart. How do you get that buy-in? And it starts with the senior leadership group. But then, it's not just that. It's even looking at some quick wins, something that you can do, just something, anything to start moving in the direction of a safer work environment.

MaryBeth Kingston:
To begin to build that foundation for that infrastructure.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah. So important now. It's always been important, but it's been more visible now than ever before. And bullying and incivility have been happening for decades since well before I was born.

MaryBeth Kingston:
I don't mean to laugh, but you're right.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, it's not a funny thing, but we've been talking about it for a gazillion years, and people are finally starting to recognize it and talk about it and do something about it. Obviously, the same for workplace violence, because very similar to bullying and incivility was swept under the rug for a while. Well, that's just part of the job. You expect patients to not always be on their best behavior, and things have changed over the last few years. And so, this is a worthy conversation to start having in your organization if you're not already. I hope you are. And hopefully, the conversation that we've had is going to help you to take it to the next level, wherever you are on your workplace violence prevention journey. And so I want to thank you again, MaryBeth, for being here. And can you tell our listeners maybe how they can connect with you?

MaryBeth Kingston:
Sure. I'll be happy to. I'm on LinkedIn. Certainly, connect there. But also, Renee, if you'll send my email address, I will respond to emails and we'd be happy to hear from folks if there's anything I can do to help. And maybe sometimes it's just connecting people with the right person. I would also again mention the American Hospital Association, their Hospitals Against Violence website. There's tremendous resources on there. I would take a look at that as well.

Renee Thompson:
That's awesome. We'll have all of that in the show notes. And we actually, here at the Healthy Workforce Institute, we have some other resources in particular related to workplace violence from a physical violence from patients and family members. We have some great resources that will add in the show notes. So make sure that when you're accessing this podcast, wherever you access the podcast, that you go to the show notes area and grab those links. And again, MaryBeth, thank you so much, and thank you for your great work to really address workplace violence and not only your healthcare system, but really globally. I mean, the work that you're doing transcends just one hospital for some.

MaryBeth Kingston:
Well, I'm trying to raise awareness, but there's many, many people, as I said, involved in this work. And it is really important. And if we can begin to tackle this in a very meaningful way, it's going to make a major difference for healthcare overall but our workforce, and patient safety as well.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah. Safety number one. Isn't that part of Maslow's hierarchy, right?

MaryBeth Kingston:
It is. It's right up there.

Renee Thompson:
It's the basics, but it's critical for a healthy work environment. So thank you. And I want to thank you who are listening to this podcast and for your commitment to creating a culture full of respect and professionalism, kindness, where bullying, and incivility, and workplace violence are immediately rejected. Because remember, the way we treat each other is just as important as the good care that we're all providing. So thank you so much for being here. Take care.

Renee Thompson:
Thank you for listening to Coffee Break: Breaking the Cycle of Bullying in Healthcare – One Cup at a Time. If you found these practical strategies helpful, we invite you to click the subscribe button and tune in every other week. For more information about our show and how we work with healthcare organizations to cultivate and sustain a healthy work culture free from bullying and incivility, visit HealthyWorkforceInstitute.com. Until our next cup of coffee, be kind, take care, and stay connected.

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Things You’ll Learn:
  • Leaders must address workplace violence comprehensively, incorporating it into organizational goals and involving leadership at all levels.
  • A multifaceted approach is needed to tackle workplace violence, involving data-driven business cases and emotional appeals to transform workplace culture.
  • Executives must demonstrate commitment by visiting departments and actively engaging in addressing incidents to create a culture of respect and professionalism.
  • Support and well-being in healthcare organizations start at the top, requiring long-term commitment for mental, physical, and emotional healing.
Resources:
  • Connect with and follow Mary Beth Kingston on LinkedIn.
  • Learn more about Advocate Health on LinkedIn and their website.
  • Discover more about the American Association for Nursing Leadership (AONL) here.
  • Explore the American Hospital Association (AHA) further by visiting their Website!
  • Get access to the free education the Healthy Workforce Institute offers here!
Disclosure: The host may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to. As an Amazon Associate, Coffee Break earns from qualifying purchases.
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