mBraining in Healthcare
I have spent 30 years working in and around healthcare. I am passionate about serving patients in the best possible way, whilst also caring for the staff who care. I have been horrified at some of the behaviours I have seen in healthcare management and leadership, with the perception that it is basically impossible to sack any one unless they hit you.
What is it that drives people to work in healthcare yet not show care and compassion? What disconnect happens that means behaviours are justified and made normal in their minds?
Coming from an mBraining perspective, we have the chance to really reconnect with our hearts. To explore again what it was that attracted us to healthcare in the first place. Many years ago I was part of a collaborative study we nicknamed SEXE (Sociological Enquiry into Xray Employees). We showed that after a three year degree course radiographers faced a decision point at between 18 months and two years. They often went into a new discipline such as ultrasound, MRI, mammography, or they moved into education, or left the profession. It was as if their needs were not met in radiography in some way, maybe they were not challenged, maybe they wanted growth opportunities. Of course these days with advanced and consultant practice routes available, more may be encouraged to stay, but we should not be complacent. Again in my recent research on consultant radiographers it is felt that not everyone wants to step up to that level. So it was interesting recently to listen to an inaugural professorial lecture at Kings College London by Jill Maben. She spoke of that same time period in nursing practice and the need to (i) fit in and adjust your own values, (ii) work while being aware of a values conflict, and (iii) or choose to walk away. This was an interesting extra piece in the jigsaw, and shows the need to consider work at a heart level, where effort is made to understand your (and your staffs) values.
Of course it does not stop there. Just being aware of your values and knowing whether you fit is only the first step. The head brain then needs to be engaged to come up with creative ways to live out your values in an often very restrictive (and resource poor) environment, which is often very head based and may not even consider compassion or values on a daily basis.
And beyond that the gut brain also needs to be engaged so that you have the courage and motivation to create the momentum to make things happen. The ability to stand out from the crowd and to stand up for what you believe in takes enormous courage – and we know that comes from engaging the gut brain. And that courage needs to be maintained over time to overcome the resistance which will come as you forge a new path, and as you suggest a new way to care.
The need to engage all three brains then, even at this very basic level, is clear. Leading from the head brain alone will never bring about the change required in healthcare, yet we face a long history of head based, hierarchical, command and control mentality, which is sat within a medically dominated model, not open to wider health and wellbeing knowledge as it emerges. I suspect many health care colleagues, on hearing about mBraining, may dismiss it out of hand as it will challenge what they thought they knew about neuro anatomy. It will take careful presentation to allow them to see what we now know about other centres of intelligence and the role they can play in staff health and well being.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the medical world embraced this new knowledge and research, showing people not only how to apply this in the education and provision of health and wellbeing, but also in modelling excellence in leading and managing people? Especially as the work has largely come through imaging technology based in the medical field.
I believe mBraining has a huge role to play in all aspects of healthcare, I just hope we embrace it and allow it to move us forwards, and that we do not allow out of date practices to persist based on a fear to change, a fear to update, and a fear to give up control in some cases. Are we big enough, strong enough and wise enough to show a new way? That is the choice we have to make.