Collaborative Approach to Problem Solving

Collaborative Approach to Problem Solving

To illustrate how the Ascent Process works in real life, I will describe the case of a hospital emergency room. Daily crises are the norm. Work is often a matter of life or death. Patients wait to be treated—some with serious conditions; others with minor trauma. The area is overcrowded, especially during peak hours. Nurses buzz around busily triaging patients, sometimes even in the hallways. Doctors pace from patient to patient checking their vital signs, while making small talk and deciding the best diagnosis. Overall, things are a bit hectic at the ER. Invisible to the patients, however, is the frustration the staff feels as they face budget cuts that result in lower staffing levels, cause longer patient waiting times, and add stress. Nurses say they were in a scramble before the economy hit, and now they are in a mad scramble. A resident physician in the ER agrees, saying that there is no time to communicate with other departments. They feel locked down in survival mode, just doing their jobs, not realizing how they are affecting everybody else. The sad consequence is that some patients linger in pain longer while others may be misdiagnosed. The Ascent Process facilitated a shared vision, based on values and focused on collaborative results. One nurse, Joanne, interned at the emergency room while she was an undergraduate nursing student. She decided then to make emergency medicine her career. After graduation, Joanne took a staff nursing position at the same hospital’s ER. Soon, Joanne began taking additional responsibilities as the staff began turning to her for help thinning overcrowded situations. Her sharp organization and...