Children’s Hospital Culture: Why it’s a Top Priority

April 30, 2021 by

by William C. Petersen Jr, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer UVAMC, Children’s Hospital Associate Professor, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, UVASOM

William C. Petersen Jr, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer UVAMC, Children’s Hospital Associate Professor, Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, UVASOMWhy is focusing on culture at the Children’s Hospital so important?  

Having a healthy workplace culture is essential to providing the best care possible.  We absolutely want our culture to be one of mutual respect, with happy and engaged team members working hard together to take the very best possible care of children. To provide that level of care, we must be a unified team.

I recently heard a definition of culture that I liked: culture is “the way we do things around here”. I would love our team members to think of the Children’s Hospital as a place where we function as a unified team and everyone feels respected and valued.”

When we created our “Mission, Vision, and Goals” statement, we came up with 8 bullets of how “we provide the best care when…” It is not a coincidence that number one states, we provide the best care when “we function as a team; all team-members’ roles are recognized as interdependent, and everyone feels respected and valued.” I think this summarizes it best.

Why is this important to you, specifically? 

For Karin Skeen, as the Administrator for the Children’s Hospital, and me as the Associate Chief Medical Officer, this is at the very top of our priorities list. We both feel very strongly about continuous improvement – taking what is already great and building upon it. Focusing on culture is the right thing to do, and it produces great results. When our team is engaged and feels respected, we are happier at work, and we do a better job of caring for children.

Everyone having a voice is incredibly important to me. I want anyone and everyone to be able to speak up and give input. Every single team member is an essential part of the team.

Why is now the right time?

We are seeing opportunities for improvement and where we aren’t living up to our high standards as much as we could be. This past year was incredibly challenging, and we were stretched more than we have ever been before, in both our work and in our personal lives. We have all been significantly impacted by the global pandemic and the social unrest in our country. As we emerge from this difficult year, my hope is that we will become an even stronger team with an even healthier culture. Respectful communication and valuing all team members will continue to be so important. Enhancing our culture is also a priority for our EVP for Health Affairs, Dr. Craig Kent, so it’s also a great opportunity for leadership alignment.

What have you seen over the past year?

The Communications and Culture Initiative, led by Dr. Ann Kellams, has been very effective and very well-received. One of the things we really value is our daily management system, including our daily huddles, which have been positively impacted by this work. Examples include making space to check in with each other and sharing meaningful weekly quotes.  These and other enhancements have helped to bring our teams closer together over the last year, especially given how hard of a year it was.

What’s coming next?

We are currently working on what the next year looks like and the plan is beginning to take shape. We will continue to analyze the data from the Communications and Culture survey results and will continue hosting listening sessions throughout the Children’s Hospital. The listening sessions will ask questions such as, “What makes your job harder?” and “How can we lighten the load?” Even though we’ve been focusing on culture for a while, there are many opportunities to partner together and help to make our culture even better here at UVA Children’s Hospital.

Filed Under: Features