Krista Baty is Chief Nursing Officer at Cedar Park Regional Medical Center, Texas. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked Krista to share her perspective on her leadership role in a healthcare organization, and some of the road blocks standing in the way for women’s health.
Over Krista’s career, she has risen the ranks and experienced life and work in several healthcare systems. While advancements have been made to see more females in leadership positions, Krista has found that there still can be a glass ceiling that is preventing more women from breaking through to leadership roles.
“Eighty to eighty five percent of nurses are women. In leadership and administrative roles, that’s not always the case,” said Krista. “I’ve been in three different hospital systems… and you still get the sense of the ‘good old’ boys’ network.’ As a female, I feel that I had to work twice as hard to have and build that trust early on. It doesn’t just come with the title.”
On the other hand, Krista acknowledges the fact that progress has been made for women in the workplace, especially in healthcare. But now is not the time to drop the ball.
“Overall, the biggest breakthrough has been the need to raise awareness for women to take time for their health, and make access to health check-ins more easily available.”
“Here at Cedar Park, we have a dedicated women’s health day. It gives an opportunity for [women] to see our facility and what we can offer. We hand out coupons for mammograms, and have physicians available to talk about women’s health. We also have more ‘fun’ activities to educate the people attending about women’s health.”
The modern workplace may be a more level playing field for women than it has been in the past, but it still isn’t always amenable to women’s health issues (or men’s, for that matter). “There’s nothing worse than having to take days off work to get a mammogram,” said Krista. “You end up thinking about missing work, not the mammogram.”
“In the next five years, I envision taking healthcare to the work place. Making it more convenient. It is important to have mobile healthcare where you can provide those health screenings or educational sessions … actually at the workplace. It’s our responsibility as health care organizations to get outside of our four walls of the hospital to reach the community.”
With busy lifestyles, work, children, and growing lists of commitments, women often push their own health and wellbeing to the side. Krista says it is high time we work to change that.
“We still think of healthcare as Monday through Friday with a two-hour lunch,” she said. “For women on the go, there are not a lot of outpatient hospital settings where you can go get a treatment, like a mammogram, on a Saturday.”
This same attention to taking care of your own health is something Krista tries to instill at her own workplace.
“Often times, nurses have long hours (12.5 hour shifts), with not a lot of times for breaks – lunch, snack, bathroom or even just a moment to recoup,” she said. “That can lead to stress, bad food choices… you name it. We must ensure hospitals are advocating for their nurse staff… providing nutritious snacks at lunch, giving proper breaks.”
In healthcare, you not only take care of patients, you also take care of the people who take care of patients.
Krista has worked to put protocols in place to ensure her staff is taking breaks and even bringing the concept of mobile healthcare to her staff when they administer annual flu shots.
“It is easy to forget about taking the time for ourselves when we are balancing work, family and other commitments,” said Krista. “But the more we can make preventive healthcare easier for both men and women, in our daily lives and in the workplace, the healthier of a society we can become.”
This article is brought to you by GE Healthcare’s The Pulse.More Information
In healthcare, the workforce is the link between an organization’s clinical and financial goals. As the biggest operating expense, optimizing the workforce is key to providing quality care while also keeping costs in line with expectations. In a recent survey conducted with HealthLeaders, API Healthcare asked more than 100 healthcare leaders what workforce strategies they felt had the greatest impact on their organization’s ability to control costs and improve quality. Among the top initiatives deemed to have the greatest impact were acuity-based staffing and adjusting the mix of professionals based on skill level and competencies.
It comes as no surprise that these two initiatives bubbled to the top. In an environment where quality metrics are weighted heavily, staffing based on patient volumes and level of acuity is an effective way to improve quality while containing costs. In theory, acuity-based staffing is simple. However without the right data, a typical approach would be missing the analytics necessary to support data-driven staffing decisions.
More than just controlling nurse-to-patient ratios, data-driven staffing should take into consideration the skill sets and competencies of the caregiver mix, ensuring the right combination is in place to match each patient’s unique needs. Nurse workload and inefficient patient matching can directly impact patient care. In fact, hospitals that utilize data and analytics when staffing are in a much better position to cost-effectively keep care quality high.
New care delivery models are changing how and where care is delivered, and not all nurses and patients are created equal. Ratios are a great place to start, but objective, reliable data and sophisticated analytics are must-haves when it comes to making staffing decisions based on evidence and outcomes.
Utilization of workforce analytics can help healthcare organization make better short-term and long-term staffing decisions. In the short-term, a focus on optimizing the skill mix can help get the right staff in the right place at the right time. This balances care needs with budget constraints and ensures patient satisfaction. In the long-term, data can be used to determine how and who to recruit, as well as to develop and retain a workforce with the right skills and competencies to support current and future needs.
Acuity-based staffing and ensuring the right mix of caregiver skills and competencies not only helps improve quality, it also helps generate high performers and create engaged and empowered employees—the core to labor cost reduction and quality of care improvements.
For more information about top workforce management initiatives, take a look at the white paper, “Top Workforce Management Initiatives for Quality of Care Improvements and Labor Cost Reduction.”