How much does my organizational culture impact the way I work as an oncology nurse navigator? More than you may think! It’s amazing how much our leaders can influence not just the way we work (as a result of their policy decisions) but also the way we feel while we’re at work. Decisions made by our leaders at the top, and the effects of those decisions, are continuously filtering down to us nurse navigators on the front line, whether we know it or not. The decisions of our leaders can affect the way we think and feel about our jobs, and maybe even how well we are able to do our jobs as nurse navigators.
Leaders in health care are using organizational culture, and particularly the values within an organizational culture, to help steer medical providers towards smart decisions on how to manage the health care needs of patients. “An organization with a strong culture helps employees to accomplish their goals and tasks…” (Korner, 2015). Wise management decisions impact how much guidance and support we receive as nurse navigators, and this ultimately affects our ability to accomplish our goals and tasks when it comes to patient care.
Scott-Findlay and Eastabrooks (2006) suggest that organizational culture is grounded in the values, assumptions, and beliefs within individual organizations. They describe how culture in the workplace makes sense of behaviors and directs the actions of members within the organization. When we work for an organization that focuses on a person-centered approach to care of patients, it is much easier for us to provide the person-centered care that is central to our mission as nurse navigators.
With the focus on patient-centered care and greater patient safety in our fragmented and often highly specialized field, researchers are noting that improving the patient experience ultimately can improve patient outcomes. Nandini, et al (2011) suggests that oncology patients have better outcomes when the emphasis is placed on quality of life issues, along with symptom management. Proponents that believed person-centered care would not sit well in evidence-based medicine have finally conceded that “a good outcome must be defined in terms of what is meaningful and valuable to the individual patient.” (Epstein and Smith, 2011) Berwick (2009) believes that patient-centered care should be a dimension of quality, and that patient care that is based on “person centerness” positively affects patient outcomes.
So when it comes to providing the best person-centered care we can for our patients, we need to pause awhile to think about the support we are receiving from our leaders. We need to spend a little time thinking about our organizational culture and what values are important to us and our organization.
Finally, if we feel we need a little more guidance and support from our leaders in order to do our jobs well, we need to have the courage to open up dialogue with our management team. In doing so, we may be surprised by the positive response we get from management. Leaders at the top are often happy to receive input from the front-line staff, especially when the wellbeing and safety of patients are at stake. Our work as nurse navigators is too important for us not to be vocal when that is exactly what we need to be. Our patients deserve nothing less.
Berwick, D (2009) What ‘Patient-Centered’ should mean: Confessions of an Extremist, Health Affairs ,28, no 4
Körner M, Wirtz MA, Bengel J, Göritz AS. Relationship of organizational culture, teamwork and job satisfaction in interprofessional teams. BMC Health Services Research. 2015;15:243. doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0888-y.
Nandini, V., Sridhar, C., Usharani, M., Kumar, J. P., & Salins, N. (2011). Incorporating Person Centred Care Principles into an Ongoing Comprehensive Cancer Management Program: An Experiential Account. Indian Journal of Palliative Care, 17(Suppl),61–67.
Scott-Finlay, S., Estabrooks, C., (2006) Mapping the organizational culture research in nursing: a literature review, Journal of Advanced Nursing 56(5), pp498-513