Address Stress for Better Teamwork
Clinical risk manager, medical underwriter, clinical consultant – these are just some of our job titles. Although our titles may vary, one unifying factor is the vital role nurses play in the stop loss industry.
We are registered nurses with diverse clinical background and years of experience. We offer our expertise and support to our policyholders and their TPAs, both to recommend appropriate resources to help improve a patient’s health status and to ensure that charges are appropriate. As a registered nurse at Berkley Accident and Health, I work together with underwriting, sales, claims, third party administrators, employer groups, case managers, and risk management vendors to assess risk, project claim costs, and identify opportunities to lower costs.
It is an exciting time in health care. New treatments and medications are emerging every day that improve patient survival and quality of life. Unfortunately, many of these advancements come at a cost that, at times, can be egregious and unsustainable. As nurses, it is our job to stay current through ongoing education, peer-reviewed journals, and membership in nursing organizations, so we can share that information with others on our team, whether they sit next to us or work remotely.
We all work in an environment with physical conditions and work processes, but also social interactions. A healthy work environment is the combination of all the things that can influence performance and job satisfaction. You can have a room full of amazing and talented musicians, but if they do not work collaboratively, you will never hear the beautiful music of an orchestra.
The stop loss industry can be stressful with competing demands, imminent deadlines, and multiple viewpoints, but one way to encourage the beautiful music of the stop loss team, even when faced with these obstacles, is to foster a mindful workplace. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, without judgment, acknowledging things as they are, and accepting associated thoughts and feelings.
Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace
Some benefits include:
- Increased feelings of well-being and job satisfaction
- Better ability to stay focused on tasks
- Improved coping skills
- Awareness of obstacles, without becoming overwhelmed
- Feeling empowered and better creative problem-solving ability
- More cohesive, collaborative team environment with the power of “We”
How to Reap the Benefits
How can we be more mindful at work? Some suggestions to consider:
- Start each day with conscious awareness, being aware of thoughts and feelings.
- Use active listening by using your full concentration to understand, respond, and remember what is being said.
- Be aware of body language, which can be as powerful as words.
- Watch your tone to ensure that your words accurately reflect your intention. Strive to be truthful, polite, helpful, and most of all, inspiring.
- When feeling stressed, take some time to regroup by getting some fresh air, taking a short walk, or practicing some relaxation exercises. Time alone can provide a fresh view of a situation which, in turn, can lead to creative problem solving.
- Respect all people, even when you may not agree with them.
- Make sure to nourish yourself: body, mind, and spirit with healthy foods, green plants, physical activity, and stress management exercises.
- Feel and express gratitude. Everyone likes to feel appreciated.
- Focus on one task at a time, giving it your full attention.
- Accept those things you can’t change while focusing your energy on the things within your control.
- Think “growth”: believing that with effort and hard work, we can all perform at our personal best.
- Cultivate humility. Look for ways to bring out the best in ourselves and in others.
- The past is the past and the future is not yet here, so focus your energy on the present to make a positive impact.
While the stress of competing demands may be unavoidable, our response to it is up to us. It can lead to growth and better teamwork or burnout and ineffective communication. A famous Chinese proverb says, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” Take that first step with this simple exercise from PocketMindfulness.com:
Practice This: Mindful Breathing
This exercise can be done standing or sitting, and pretty much anywhere, at any time. If you can sit down in a meditation (lotus) position, that’s great, if not, no worries.
Either way, all you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.
- Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
- Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. Simply let thoughts rise and fall of their own accord and be at one with your breath.
- Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you with life.
- Then watch with your awareness as it works work its way up and out of your mouth and its energy dissipates into the world.
Laura Giffen, RN, BSN, CCM, MA, PAHM, AATMC, HN-BC works as a Clinical Risk Manager for Berkley Accident and Health where she uses her medical expertise to connect stop loss customers to resources that can improve clinical and financial outcomes. Laura is passionate about all things health and wellness and dedicates her time to encouraging others to life a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Alidina, S. (2015). The mindful way through stress: The proven 8-week path to health, happiness, and well-being. New York: The Guilford Press.
Alidina, S. (2015). Mindfulness for dummies. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.
Mindfulnessspace.com.au Mindfulness Space – Mindfulness Training Sydney. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2018, from http://samesites.org/www/mindfulnessspace.com.au
Pocket Mindfulness. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2018, from https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/
Insurance coverage is underwritten by Berkley Life and Health Insurance Company and/or StarNet Insurance Company, both member companies of W. R. Berkley Corporation and both rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best. Not all products and services may be available in all jurisdictions, and the coverage provided is subject to the actual terms and conditions of the policies issued. Payment of claims under any insurance policy issued will only be made in full compliance with all United States economic or trade and sanction laws or regulation, including, but not limited to, sanctions, laws and regulations administered and enforced by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”).