Clinical work is often emotional work. Healthcare providers can struggle to switch off outside of working hours and are prone to mentally bring home their job. Research suggests too that the audiologist role is susceptible to stress and burnout. There are many factors that can contribute to this, some of them outside the control of the professional. But what can practitioners do to reduce stress and positively influence job satisfaction?
What it’s all about
Michael Manz is a seasoned Audiologist at Lambton Audiology Associates in Sarnia, Canada. “Being an audiologist has its high points, but it can also be a thankless job,” says Manz. “I think it’s fair to say that that’s a common theme among most healthcare and speech and hearing practitioners. In my experience, the single most important factor is the satisfaction of my clients. Helping each person to achieve their specific, unique, communication goals is what it’s all about. That’s why I got into the profession in the first place. It’s the successes along the way that have kept me eager to continue as a practitioner over the years.”
So how is that achievable in a hectic clinical workday? Manz explains, “Person-centered care has definitely helped in that regard. I find that when clients are treated as partners rather than recipients in the therapeutic process, they take more ownership in their treatment protocol. As a result, they are more motivated to achieve the goals that we have set together – because those goals really matter to them.”
PCC: A medicine for professional fatigue?
While many practitioners feel they are already intuitively practicing person-centered care (PCC), the approach in fact requires fundamental training and an explicit, continuous focus on the core principles. A few years ago, Manz joined Inspired by Ida – a program that helps both new and experienced hearing care professionals develop their person-centered skills and apply them in practice.
Since its launch in 2018, the program has attracted hearing care professionals and clinics from across the world. The program teaches simple methods to enable a valuable transformation of clinical practice, adding an explicit focus on PCC. According to a 2020 survey among Inspired members, as much as 68% felt more satisfied in their jobs after joining the program.
Manz explains why PCC makes such a difference, “Professional fatigue can be a product of feeling helpless or inadequate when patients are frustrated despite one’s best attempts. PCC offers an effective opportunity for a targeted and measurable approach in such situations. By using a PCC approach, the treatment plan can be altered as needed to address each individual’s current set of communication difficulties, which are directly related to their source of frustration and distress. A sense of control over stressful situations is gained by the client, lessening their feelings of helplessness.”
Sarah Mierau, an Audiologist at The Hearing Care Partnership in Blackheath, England agrees. Mierau says, “I always put my patients first and try to really get to know them, bond with them, and find a solution to accommodate their individual needs. Being able to help my patients improve their quality of life is what makes me love my job – and PCC definitely improves my job satisfaction. I think it keeps my job interesting as I am digging and really getting to the bottom of the problem for the individual patient.”
A cultural shift
The interest in PCC has increased over the years. Manz recalls the surge in the mid-late nineties in family-centered care among health practitioners. At the time, there was a significant cultural shift within the healthcare delivery system, one that is still gradually but steadily being adopted as both practitioners and clients see and appreciate the benefits of the person and family-centered approach.
“What has been lacking, in my view, is consistency of approach,” says Manz. “The Ida resources fill a much-needed niche, with well executed training modules available for practitioners to use in training all their staff – not just the professionals providing care – and well-designed tools that practitioners can use as a common denominator within their organizations. Ida makes it much easier for practitioners to systematically get more involved with person-centered care, allowing them to more easily adapt their practices in a guided way, so they and their clients can experience and evaluate the benefits of the person-centered care approach firsthand.”
An added value of practicing PCC is the fact that clients are more loyal and tend to recommend the hearing care professional or clinic to others, which obviously is good for business. Mierau stresses that PCC makes a tremendous difference in terms of patient satisfaction and is likely to bring patient recommendations. “Many of my patients tell me that they have felt so well taken care of and they are thankful that they can tell me anything that concerns them.”
How to start your PCC journey
To join Inspired by Ida, professionals must complete two short online courses in PCC and sign a Code of ethics underscoring their commitment to this approach. The courses are free and CEU and CPD accredited by several major organizations. Each course is broken into bite-sized chapters, making it easy for people to learn at their own pace. Presented by experts, they include short videos, texts, and knowledge checks to usher learners towards concrete learning objectives.
Upon completion, enrollees are awarded the Inspired by Ida label, which they can use to show their newly acquired qualifications and dedication to PCC.
Visit Inspired by Ida to find out more and join the program.