VC Notes - A weekly word from Dr. LouAnn Woodward
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Friday, January 27, 2023


Good morning!

In the VC Notes inbox, I get a number of submissions that don’t really ask a question but instead are intended to inform me of something that they believe I – and other leaders – should know. From time to time, I receive comments from you expressing your concerns about professionalism in the workplace, and how that’s interpreted by fellow employees, our students, patients and visitors.

Some of the items mentioned in your comments related to other employees’ professionalism include wearing hats when it’s not appropriate, being noisy around working colleagues, using profanity, smoking on campus and other actions that wouldn’t conform to our expectations of professionalism.

VC_Jan_27_ID_divVery often, the situation isn’t about personal preference, or rules or the lack of rules. Instead, it’s about being respectful and kind to each other, being considerate of each other, and being mindful that we are an institution of higher learning and research, a place that cares for sick patients and their families, and a place of business.

When it comes to patients and their families, each of us represents the Medical Center and makes a lasting impression, either positively or negatively. Being mindful of how we interact as employees also applies to the patients and families we serve.

We can all practice more self-reflection. The person who sits next to you might spend their days pounding on their keyboard instead of using a light touch. It drives you to distraction – but does the person making the noise have any idea it grates on your nerves? It’s a good reminder that even if we don’t intend to be disrespectful of someone’s feelings, it can happen inadvertently.

It’s frustrating to be surrounded by raised voices if you share an office in close proximity to the next cubicle, or are just trying to find a quiet place to make a phone call. Have you been on the opposite side of that scenario, and had no idea you were being that loud?

And when many of us work in close proximity for a 12-hour shift, it’s important to have empathy for each other. Nerves can be on edge when it’s a busy or stressful day. We all handle stress differently, and sometimes, in the moment you don’t react as you usually would.

There are everyday acts of professionalism that can be overlooked – for example, giving patients and visitors the right of way in elevators and hallways, staying off your cell phone and texts when moving about campus, and even being mindful of other’s sensitivity to fragrances.

Yes, we have generational differences in the workplace. Language at the lunch table that might be unacceptable to a “Boomer” might seem just fine to a Gen Z-age person. For any age group or generation, profanity around patients and visitors is not acceptable.

No matter your age or generation or position, one tenet that applies to all of us is professional behavior in a place of business. Professional behavior demonstrates the respect we have for our colleagues and the patients and families who walk our halls. That’s the role modeling employees provide to the more than 3,000 learners who will become our future health care professionals and scientists.

Kindness. Consideration. Respect. Mindfulness of how we treat each other through words and actions. That’s the professionalism and culture that we aspire to as we work, every day, to create A Healthier Mississippi.

Signed, Lou Ann Woodward, M.D.

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