Spider Webs, Patient Safety, & Professional Relationships! Hmmmmm.

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Teia2A spider web is an amazing complex adaptive system.  It’s inter-related parts can remain in tact while responding to wind, rain, and trapped insects. With a little imagination, we can use one as a metaphor to consider approaches for “Soft” skill development in healthcare professionals which we all know are essential in for addressing issues like patient safety, workplace bullying and blaming, and burnout successfully.

As resilient as this web might be,  imagine it after a major hurricane has passed through. Many of it’s strands all tangled, wet,  and hanging adrift in the dwindling wind. Some of the parts are interconnected, but not in a way that enables the system to function as it is meant to.  We could say that the inter-related parts are not healthy!  Sort of like the professional relationships that exist in toxic cultures and/or with professional incivility, bullying etc., right?

What does the spider do? And how could humans help? Click To Tweet

What does the spider do? And how could humans help?   Can you imagine trying to untangle it and gluing it back together?  Not realistic, is it?   In fact, the spider may eat the remains in order to recycle the nutrients so that it can rebuild the web.  Perhaps humans could help by ensuring access to other nutrients, sheltering from the next hurricane, or not interfering with the spider’s work.  In any case, the spider’s success will depend on having the nutrients to rebuild new connections not to put the old one back together. .

That IS my point with this web metaphor!

That the connections between professionals are super important.  They impact everything!  And when broken, healthcare leaders need to provide professionals with  effective communication trainings and cultures that help them build positive relationships.  Interactive workshops on constructive feedback, coaching, and med improv are examples of strategies that empower staff to develop respectful connections.  Role-modeling behavior, articulating a vision for healthy culture, apologizing for poor behavior, and ultimately disciplining professionals who are unable or unwilling to practice respectful conduct are additional measures.

leadership’s role in setting the stage for best individual, team, and system behaviors... Click To TweetI think of it as leadership’s role in setting the stage for best individual, team, and system behaviors.




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2 Responses to Spider Webs, Patient Safety, & Professional Relationships! Hmmmmm.

  1. Beth_Boynton_RN_MS says:

    Thanks, Renee. Our survival depends on our connections, I think. And the healthier they can be the more joy, safety, love etc can ripple out. (Something like that) 🙂

  2. Renee Thompson says:

    Great post Beth. I couldn’t agree with you more! The most desired human emotion is to feel CONNECTED with other humans. Love the spiderweb analogy.

    Thank you for all you do to empower nurses.

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