Though we started the morning of Day 1 with a “safety story,” I really feel like the critical importance of quality and safety wasn’t anchored until the group watched the Lewis Blackman story. In my notes, I underlined “calling for help when uncertain is an important characteristic of safety cultures and empowers MDs and RNs to reduce medical errors.” The idea of “calling for help” or, stated better as “calling for guidance,” is something that as an older nurse, I love to teach to new graduate nurses and am never ashamed to say I do every day at my job. Where I currently work, if new nurses are not asking questions, then we get worried! Asking questions (or better phrased as “asking for guidance”) is a cornerstone of transparency. The ability of a new nurse to be transparent in saying “I am admitting I don’t know this and therefore am asking for guidance” definitely helps to create a safety culture and reduce errors through collaboration. Of course, older nurses cannot be judgmental and need to be accepting of new nurses when asking questions. However, if teaching the practice of asking questions when unsure starts during a new nurses’ training period, hopefully the acceptance of transparency and asking for guidance will continue throughout their career.
During discussion of the Lewis Blackman story, the feedback from residents made it seem like asking for guidance was looked down upon in many of their clinical experiences. Hopefully this idea that “asking for guidance” is equivalent to weakness will change. I think that in an ideal safety culture, nurses and doctors would be able to ask for guidance from each other without pushback as well.