GRC for Nurses and other Care Givers

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GRC? You way wonder what that is – not surprising, as I have only begun publicizing it as of January 2012.

GRC is my dream project, still (and likely forever, given infinite human complexity and diversity) a work in progress.  It involves training material for Nurses and other care givers interested in learning better human relations skills.  Over the last ten years, I have gathered much research and expert practical knowledge and experience from a wide variety of sources.

These data consistently support five crucial points:

1) Effective human relations involve learned skills that most people have only partially mastered from instinct and upraising,

2) These skills are quite trainable, with a little education and ongoing practice,

3) The benefits of such training, whether mine or someone else’s,  accrue from the very beginning of the process, and grow over time,

4) Much has been researched, refined, and proven in practice for many years: material more familiar within some professional circles than others, and

5) As it turns out, healthcare providers remain quite poorly trained in this area.  I see two main reasons.

First, in this age of massive and specialized knowledge, it is common to see knowledge obvious to one specialty group completely unknown to another.  There is tremendous potential in gathering knowledge outside of your group’s ‘box’ (as in  “outside the box”), directly from within another groups ‘box.’  You gain fresh, novel (to you) knowledge in this fashion, yet already refined and proven elsewhere, instead of reinventing the wheel or wallowing in relative ignorance.

Second, because it has been so useful in many ways, the ubiquitous medical model dominates health care education, research, and practice.  It inherently focuses attention on disease and dysfunction, on parts over the whole, and on small uniform (amenable to statistical analysis) groups over diversity.  Even in psychiatric work, diagnoses and symptoms play  starring roles.  I have developed my own hypothesis, and validated it over and over for years working with clients suffering from Dementia, Delirium, Depression, Mania, Psychosis, etc.:   Even in the presence of mental illness, human motivation is largely driven by normal aspects of human nature, as reflected in social psychology, cognitive science, etc.  As I often say:

Diseases don’t make decisions: people do.  

Diseases may well distort decision-making or offer people bad information like delusions or hallucinations, but most such impaired people still make decisions, and remain quite open to the same social influences as anyone else.  Care givers who ignore this fact often inadvertently make clinical situations much worse.   In any case, they are much less effective than they could be, and these care givers suffer for it along with clients.

Care givers, who so desperately require the best people skills, receive little if any formal training in human relations.  What training they get is incomplete and limited, so they must rely on unrefined instincts and clumsy and ineffective techniques, greatly impairing their efficacy.  As a result, relationships with clients suffer, contributing to care giver stress, frustration, and legal liability: did you know that whether a patient likes and trusts a provider may well do more to shape their legal liability than do their actual  care and competence?  Sub-optimal people skills also contribute to treatment non-adherencean ongoing, extremely costly national public health crisis.

(Note: If all patients in America took all their medications as prescribed – far from the case now – the estimated public health impact would be roughly comparable to that of  curing Diabetes completely (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16079372)  )

Like playing chess, the rules of human relations are fairly simple and often familiar, yet one can build mastery throughout life and never fully exhaust their full potential.  Practice often involves learning to master dysfunctional instincts: to assess and act thoughtfully, instead of merely reacting automatically.  Human relations are endlessly fascinating.   This practice can be gratifying, refreshing, and often rather pleasant.  I certainly enjoy it.

Students learn how to more easily and efficiently build client rapport and cooperation, improve treatment adherence and outcomes, to have more fun and get more done, with less wasted time, less frustration, less stress, more confidence.  I make these promises confidently, based on my own clinical experience, that of students, and the results of many impressive figures in the past and present.  But it depends on your participation, your practice, to work.

John Dryden once said, “The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”

In this sense, much current health care practice is insane.  Even sadder, many care givers know that what they are doing works poorly, that they suffer for it, yet they keep on keeping on, unaware of better options, or too burnt-out and cynical to try anything new.  So, so sad, tragic actually, as it is completely unnecessary, self-inflicted pain.  If you find yourself on this treadmill, please, for all our sakes, get off and find a better way, whether through my program or someone else’s.  Much of my inspiration and most of my knowledge comes from others, whether Jeffrey Gittomer (excellent books, blog, etc.), Roger Fisher and William Ury at the Harvard Negotiation Project (wonderful books), Dale Carnegie, or many others.  There is so much great knowledge out there waiting for you.

Thanks so much for your time and consideration.

Have no doubt: with the right tools, we can begin to make the world a better place, every day.

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