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Try Pink on for Size

pretty in pinkI try to read everything I can by Daniel Pink.  His books are sold under the business heading at Amazon but they go far beyond business as he chronicles human behavior in afast changing world.  His books challenge what is intuitive and each of his counterintuitive positions is backed up by research.  The studies are pretty entertaining all by themselves.  This week’s delight was To Sell is Human.  He points out that 1 in 9 people have a job in sales and so do the other 8.

If you are interested in what he has to say, by all means, buy his book.  Today, I am going to cut to the chase and offer some advice blatantly stolen from Mr. Pink’s latest book.  Operating on the assumption that our job is to sell thepatient on  new behaviors, we are marketers.  Just don’t take any money or other remuneration in kind from your patients.  That’s a really bad idea unless you think that a quiet room with three meal a day, no bills, free healthcare and the occasional conjugal visit is better than seeing 9 patients a day and charting till midnight.

Imagine for a minute, that I am trying to teach you how to document.  That shouldn’t be hard to imagine.  We struggle together through the distasteful language of wound descriptors and review what a Medicare covered skill is.  Then I ask you how likely you are on a scale of 1 – 10 to use this knowledge in your daily documentation and you respond with a very enthusiastic 7.

What would you predict my next question to be?  Last week, I might have asked what it would take to get you up to a 9 or 10.  This week, I would ask, why not a 5 or even 4?  What is about documentation that its importance scores greater than a 4?

And you tell me. And while you do so you are confirming in your mind why it is important. And the reasons you conjure up are the ones that are important to you.   I want you to document well so your agency can get paid and hire consultants.  You want to document well so that your patient is well cared for and to keep your name out of a lawsuit.

Using this same technique, consider the CHF patient woofing down fries.  Everyone knows that French fries without sale are useless.  So, you teach the patient and the family about sodium and you suggest that he go without eating fast food a period of just one week.  How likely, you ask, on a 1 – 10 scale is he to comply?  When he offers a half-hearted 5, ask him why not a 2 or a 3.

As he answers, listen carefully to his payoffs.  The patient doesn’t want to ‘maintain his weight without no more than a 2 pound weight gain or loss over 60 days’.  The patient wants to feel better, rest better, have more energy and be less confused.  As he explains to you why the fries may not be the best choice he is also hearing the advice from the one person in the world he trusts more than anyone – himself.

I hope that somebody takes it upon themselves to try this some time soon and report back to us how it worked.  Wouldn’t it be sweet to have another tool to add to our teaching repertoire?  Everyone else is getting better at what they do.  Why not nurses?

Let me know how it turns out.

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