February 24, 2011

Social Media 123 – Social Media and Professionalism @ Mayo


Professionalism is the standard of conduct at Mayo Clinic.  The foundation for Mayo’s culture is rooted in the trust placed in those who deliver patient care, conduct research and educate health care professionals, and in those who provide support for these activities.

Professionalism is the basis of the contract between health care providers and society. It is also the premise for patient trust in them. These concepts were articulated by Dr. William Mayo in his 1910 Commencement Address at Rush Medical College: “As we grow in learning, we more justly appreciate our dependence upon each other...The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered, and in order that the sick may benefit of advancing knowledge, a union of forces is necessary.” Attributes of professionalism in Dr. Will’s statement include the benefit of discovering new knowledge, the importance of remaining competent and skillful, teamwork, primacy of patient welfare, and altruism.

The Mayo Clinic Model of Care defines the Mayo experience and is a companion to the Program in Professionalism and Ethics.  The Model of Care is the guide for how Mayo cares for patients, how we work together, who leads Mayo Clinic, and much more. The Mayo Model of Care emphasizes:

  • Teamwork - The Doctors Mayo understood the benefits of putting multiple heads together to solve problems long before “teamwork” became a standard part of the management lexicon. It’s more than doctors working together. Allied health staff, support staff, all employees work together, putting patients’ needs first.
  • Respect - The respectful way the Mayo brothers treated their patients remains the gold standard for patient care today.
  • Innovation - The Mayo brothers said it repeatedly – learning never stops.
  • Culture - Some aspects of the Mayo culture are hard to see but are integral to how we work as an organization. For example, physicians lead Mayo Clinic. This helps maintain the focus on patients’ needs.
  • Quality - When the Doctors Mayo put patients first, a culture of patient-focused quality was launched that sets a high standard.
  • Scholarship and Research - The Mayo brothers sought new knowledge about medicine, traveling to learn from others and opening the doors of Mayo Clinic to others who sought knowledge.

In addition to the Mayo Model of Care, many Mayo departments emphasize attributes of professionalism in employee performance reviews:

  • Displays professionalism through behavior, dress, speech and attitude.
  • Strives to grow professionally through continuous study and participation.
  • Adheres to shift hours (using Facebook when you should be working is unprofessional).
  • Develops positive working relationships with favorable interactions and friendly cooperation.
  • Displays good communication skills by exchanging information and collaborating with other team members.
  • Seeks and encourages continual innovation.
  • Displays excellent priority management with a consistency in meeting deadlines.
  • Takes the initiative to be a problem solver by identifying problems, effectively using resources and knowing when to involve management.
  • Handles situations in a calm, objective manner.
  • Demonstrates reliability in performing responsibilities in a consistent and effective manner.
  • To be respected as a professional, you need to look, sound and act the part.

Note that social media can support and enhance both the Mayo Model of Care and these other attributes of professionalism. Here are a few examples of the contribution social media can make:

  • Teamwork – social tools enable communication and collaboration within work units and across time zones.
  • Scholarship and Research – while the Mayo brothers traveled extensively to teach and learn, social tools make these worldwide connections instantaneous.
  • Continuous study and participation – what you’re doing right now, learning through a social platform, illustrates this point.
  • Continual Innovation – Social tools can be combined and applied in innovative ways to accomplish work that would have been impossible previously, or at least prohibitively expensive. Our Mayo Clinic News Blog, for instance, saved us tens of thousands of dollars compared to a vendor-supplied online newsroom.
  • Support for Culture – through our intranet-based platforms, videos and blog, we can highlight the values we want to strengthen and help employees think about how these values and priorities apply in their daily work.

At Mayo Clinic, professionalism is a core value that has deep roots in our history. The creation of our Social Media Guidelines helps us educate our employees on the appropriate use of social media on and off duty, to avoid unprofessional behavior but just as importantly to harness social media power as a force for good.

The Center for Social Media will be a valuable resource in this regard for Mayo employees. It will speed adoption of social tools at Mayo and then within health care more broadly through the Social Media Health Network, providing relevant education along the way. Mayo strives to set an example of the good that can come from using social media the right way.

Randy Schwarz is a staff member for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. He has worked at Mayo Clinic for 13 years, most recently in Human Resources.

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