Its not often that a single phrase can be used to answer almost any question in any scenario. Today, however, we are in luck! For my inaugural post on the blog, I am going to talk about the most important thing in any organization, the mission.
This is Not a Mission
We should start about by discussing what a mission is not. A mission is not an overly generic phrase like “to make money” or “to help patients.” Any healthcare organization is going to try to help patients and will likely try to make money in some way.
An organization’s mission also should not be to simply to do whatever another entity tells it to do. I have seen this particular mistake made in numerous hospital owned physician networks. Phrases like “we just exist to generate referrals” run rampant in these places, and these types of phrases are toxic to culture.
This is a Mission
A mission should inspire employees. It should speak to a noble cause. It should be specific enough to define structure and function while simultaneously being broad enough to encompass ideals and principles, not just rote functions like “make money” or “help people.”
In healthy organizations, the mission statement is the driving force behind every action. Anyone unfamiliar with the mission is woefully unequipped to have any meaningful conversation about the work being conducted.
Physicians Don’t Know the Mission
I have met many physicians who have not put in the necessary time thinking about the mission of their organization, and it reliably leads to frustration and burn out.
It is impossible to find passion or joy while working towards a mission that you don’t know about or don’t care about.
The process of acclimating to the mission should begin before a physician even interviews with a company.
You should know the mission statement before you walk into an interview, and your opening question should be for the interviewer to explain the mission statement and how it informs operations. If the interviewer cannot answer that question, then that is a serious red flag.
If you are already part of a hospital system or network, then you should be incorporating the mission into everyday decisions. Let me give you a few basic examples.
Putting the Mission to Work
The Mayo Clinic has a lengthy mission statement, but the first part reads “To inspire hope…” Do you think that an organization aiming to “inspire hope” is going to have an extensive research component to their operations? Mayo certainly appears to think so.
Let’s get even more into the weeds. The last part of Mayo’s mission statement reads “Mayo Clinic will provide an unparalleled experience as the most trusted partner for health care.” Now, I can see all of the eye rolls happening here. The customer service surveys are coming! It’s true. If you put patient experience in your mission statement, then it will probably be extensively measured and emphasized on a day to day basis.
There are ways for you, the physician, to use this mission statement when you are interacting with administrators. Perhaps you work for Mayo and they are considering opening a new urgent care down the street. You’re not excited about this because that means your patients are going to be receiving healthcare from someone else, and thus, you are losing out on potential revenue.
By knowing the mission, you can seek to have a substantive discussion with the decision makers in the process. You can make the case that your patients should be seeing you for Mayo to remain the “most trusted partner” for patients since you are already their trusted physician, not some random person in an urgent care they have never met before.
If they respond with a comment about how you don’t have enough access in your schedule and access affects trust, then point out any number of options that could open up your access. Maybe an additional medical assistant or even a scribe. Point out how these options are cheaper than an entirely new urgent care clinic and better help the organization achieve its mission.
Remember the Answer
Any physician that follows this model can actually have a seat at the table where decisions are made that affect every day clinical practice. Better yet, physicians that speak the language of the mission are viewed as people that truly “get it,” not just employees trying to protect their own interests. All of this happened because you remembered the BossMD mantra…the mission is the answer.
What do you think? Are you excited about your mission at your workplace? Do you even know what it is? Does the mission affect your every day actions? Let me know in the comments below. To hear about my mission with this blog, visit the About Me section.