The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2004 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

IMPACT OF AN ANNUAL RETREAT ON PROCESS IMPROVEMENT IN A RESPIRATORY THERAPY SECTION.

Vince Roberts, BS, RRT, Lucy Kester, RRT, MBA, FAARC, James K. Stoller, MD, MSc, FAARC, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio

Background: In order to fulfill the mission of providing superb respiratory care, managing respiratory care services requires communication and collaboration. To enhance communication and collaboration in our Section of Respiratory Therapy, we have conducted an annual retreat for the Section since 1996, during which important challenges and opportunities are discussed in a large group forum. The current report describes the retreat process and outcomes.

Methods: The annual retreat brings together all clinical specialists, supervisors, and managers in the Section of Respiratory Therapy, along with the medical director of Respiratory Therapy and representatives of the staff from each shift. In advance of the annual half-day retreat, supervisors and clinical specialists are asked to write a brief description of areas needing improvement and actionable proposed solutions to these challenges. These documents are reviewed by the supervisors, managers, education coordinator, and medical director and a list of discussion topics for the retreat is formulated. The actual retreat day begins with a brief introduction and summary of the year’s activities and then encourages open-ended discussions regarding these various topics, with the explicit, repeated goal of generating solutions. Minutes are kept to identify specific “action items,” a list of which is visited repeatedly throughout the year to assess progress towards successful completion of each action item.

Results: Over the 8 years of annual retreats, 103 action items have been generated, of which 84% (n=87) have been successfully implemented or completed. As evidence of the importance of this group-based activity, we cite several examples of suggestions and action items that were felt to uniquely represent group process and wisdom and which were not proposed by individuals, e.g., formation of a committee to develop a new peer review employee evaluation system, and a new strategy for documenting completion of annual skills checks.

Conclusions: On the basis of this experience, we recommend conducting an annual department retreats in respiratory therapy. We believe that benefits include collective problem-solving in a public forum to identify solutions not advanced by individuals. We also believe that direct communication in such retreats leads to enhanced morale, as suggested by the very low respiratory therapist turnover rates during the 8 years over which annual retreats have been conducted at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

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