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Top Reasons “We Can’t Go Baby-Friendly” Part 2: Overcoming “Do” Obstacles

Getting staff on board can be one of the biggest "do" obstacles in going Baby-Friendly.

In an earlier blog, I addressed “Be”-oriented objections for why your hospital “can’t” go Baby-Friendly. Now, let’s look at reasons related to what hospitals do — or perhaps, more to the point, what they do not do.

I hear these objections frequently, and they are almost always rooted in activities or behaviors that people don’t value.

“We can’t get the doctors on board”

Put that way, it sounds futile and insurmountable! But experience shows that there are a couple of keys to getting the doctors “on board.”

First, try to gain some clarity. Which doctors aren’t on board? All the doctors? Most of the doctors? A few of the doctors? Just the obstetricians? Just the doctors you don’t like?

Second, take the time to understand what the “off-board” doctors object to. Often the objection is to something they think is part of the Baby-Friendly program but isn’t. (Yes, this has a “be” element to it.) Be prepared with the facts.

If possible, get the “on-board” doctors to advocate for the program to their colleagues. In a different post I address some ideas that a doctor is likely to value. In nearly all cases, this information will be better received from a physician colleague rather than someone who presents themselves as a breastfeeding expert.

“Our doctors won’t do a 3-hour training”

Honestly, I empathize with that; I really do! I resent someone, anyone, telling me I need complete some particular training in order to continue doing my job. But you can overcome this objection, too. First, acknowledge the doctor’s feelings. Remember that valuing (or not valuing) an activity may be central to the objection.

And, try to find out about the doctor’s past experience with continuing education in general. The doctor may devalue continuing education as a waste of time that draws away from billable hours. Maybe the doctor assumes he will be stuck in a dark room seeing bullet-point slides—and perceives that as tedious or boring. (That’s how I’d feel!)

Identify the objections and try to figure out how to overcome them. Maybe it’s as simple as pointing out that the educational program isn’t in a dark room at all!

Attending the mandatory education is an activity. In order to take action, any attendee must value what the education provides.

“Our nursing administration or hospital administration doesn’t support it”

For sure, you must have support from both nursing administration and hospital administration. Otherwise, before you can’t successfully move forward with the Baby-Friendly program. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on the idea just because you don’t have their support—yet.

Again, this is often a matter of misperception. Initiate some dialogue. Talk in terms that are meaningful to the administrators. What are their hot buttons? Evidence-based practice? Quality improvement? Market share? Trust me, they have a hot button somewhere. Find it. Press it. Press it many times, in many different ways. Different people have different hot buttons—different “value” centers, if you will.

The action administrators take will be aligned with the value they place on the program. Simple as that. You’ll get their support when they see the Baby-Friendly program as having value.

“The nursing staff isn’t on-board”

Yeah, believe me, I understand this. Many many times, I have faced nurses who say, “I’m never gonna do this junk” and “I’ve already got too much to do.” Luckily, I’ve successfully gotten them to change their tune. But it was never an instant transition, and I’ve always needed to have a clear strategy.

Of all the strategies I’ve ever used, the two that are probably the most successful are these: First, show them the WIIFM. (“What’s in it for me.”) Second, give them the YCDI (“You can do it.”) through training and reinforcement.

Many — if not most — nurses simply don’t want to take on something new for fear they will do it wrong. But you can’t let the staunch opinions of a stodgy few determine the path for the enlightened many. Start with the new hires, before they get their minds polluted with the “This is the way we’ve always done it” mantra. Help everyone to value what you’re “selling.”

The “do” objections are almost always rooted in value

You can’t “make” people take an action. Nor can you stop them from taking an action.  The best thing you can do is to help them value the actions or non-actions.

Stay tuned for the conclusion of this series on overcoming obstacles with Part 3, which focuses on overcoming “have” obstacles.

What “do” obstacles have you noted in your hospital? What could help overcome them? Tell me in the comments below! 

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