'Immersion Day' program fosters understanding by putting administrators in scrubs

In an effort to promote greater understanding of the inner workings of healthcare, North Carolina's Mission Health's "Immersion Day" program allows stakeholders such as such as administrators, policymakers and journalists to don scrubs for a day and shadow healthcare providers.

"The disconnect between healthcare in its intimate, real-world setting and the distilled information delivered in the boardroom or policy discussions is a key barrier to responsive governance and policymaking," Ronald A. Paulus, M.D., and Richard W. Bock, M.D., write in an article describing the program published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

During a typical Immersion Day, participants listen to patients' stories in preoperative care, observe an operation, join multidisciplinary rounds in the intensive care unit, talk with staff in break rooms and observe what Paulus and Bock describe as the "calm, controlled chaos" of the emergency department.

The program is in its third year and has proven to be a boon to participants, who have variously described their experiences as "eye-opening and endlessly fascinating," "unforgettable and humbling," even "the best-spent day of my life," according to the article. It has also resulted in improved insights on how to lead, regulate and report on the most complex healthcare issues facing the nation, according to Mission Health.

The program is not without precedent. University Hospital in San Antonio, Texas has an immersion program of its own for executive stakeholders called "Walk in My Shoes." These programs are just a few of the innovative new approaches to team-building that are available to hospitals and other healthcare systems. 

To learn more:
- here's the announcement from mission health
- read the NEJM article