Dr. Lauren Jones is an inspiring force in the healthcare industry. She’s worked as a Dean of Nursing, Clinical Supervisor, Director of nursing, a consultant, and continues to utilize her expertise to teach future, and current, generations of healthcare professionals. With all of her experience, Dr. Jones has worked hard to keep the patients at the forefront of her mind. Her passion, empathy, and strength are echoed throughout the many hospitals and healthcare facilities she improves, enhancing the industry one professional at a time.
Our nation has some of the best doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals in the world, however, the complexities of the industry can make actually going to the doctor feel overwhelming for the average patient.
This is why individuals like Dr. Lauren Jones are such an integral force to have within the industry. Dr. Jones has extensive experience in the field, working as a Dean of Nursing, Director of Nursing, clinical supervisor, consultant, but most importantly, a leader, coach, and professor. She carries her passion for the profession in everything she does, and has worked tirelessly to make sure the next generation of doctors, nurses, and faculty carry that same sense of strength.
It’s not lost on Dr. Jones that the industry has its problems, and that many healthcare facilities are governed by insurance companies. As someone with major influence in the field, she works hard to make sure that the doctors, nurses, and other professionals she leads put the patient first as if they were their own family.
The vulnerability that one feels when they go to the doctor in any capacity is something that Dr. Jones knows and has experienced early on in life. Those early experiences and the lessons she learned from them are just another reason why Dr. Jones is such a needed presence in the industry.
“As someone who has been in the field for so long and is continuing to teach and inspire the future generations of healthcare professionals, Dr. Jones has seen the evolution that brought healthcare to the standard it’s at today. She’s seen what’s worked, what hasn’t, and through that has been able to find the things that will keep doctors and nurses professional, and also personable.” These skills alow the Nurse to spend a few extra minutes with patients and their families. This is difficult and does not occur of Hospitals are not Staffing appropriately.
Dr. Jones’ initial experience with the medical field occurred early on in life. She explained that as an only child, she felt like she was more in tune to her environment and the people around her. So when her grandmother got a major surgery, her curiosity over the procedure and passion to help her grandmother recover was sparked immediately.
“I’m an only child, so I already was very neurotic (:)) and had honed my observational skills. When I was about 11, my grandmother had a mastectomy and I would help her change the dressings in her recovery, and I had never seen such mutilating surgery in my life. I remember thinking to myself even as a child that something wasn’t right.
They ended up finding out years later that her surgeon was an alcoholic, and I didn’t even fully understand or know what that all meant but at 11-years-old having that inclination that
something was medically wrong and should be fixed was sort of the catalyst into what brought me to healthcare.”
Dr. Jones earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Illinois, Chicago, a Master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing, and a PhD in Organizational Behavior from the Union Institute & University respectively. Throughout her educational career, Dr. Jones realized that
more often than not, nurses are the ones who spend the most time with the patients and their families/loved ones.
“I remember in the 90s there was research that came out that said an RN in an acute care facility is with a patient for 23 hours and 48 minutes everyday, which only allows for 12 minutes for any other medical staffer to be with the patient, including the main physician. To me, that’s where the power was and what really keeps people alive.”
When it comes to her evolution in healthcare, Dr. Jones explained that she had a dynamic movement throughout the healthcare industry.
“It really was more of a dynamic occurrence, especially with the leadership piece which I really enjoy. I started teaching leadership in college which prompted me to get my Doctorate in Organizational Behavior. The irony is when I give talks or seminars throughout the United States I tell people my Master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing, and a doctorate is in Organizational Behavior, so I’ve gone from helping and healing troubled individuals to troubled organizations.”
“One of the things in healthcare, like many industries, there’s a lot of people that take themselves seriously. I think a good rule of thumb is it’s important to take what you do seriously, especially in this field, but not take yourself too seriously. I like to make people laugh and watch them relax to make them feel more comfortable.”
From her experience with her grandmother and seeing the patient’s perspective after a massive surgery, Dr. Jones learned how to adapt to serious healthcare settings and situations early on. She recalled her grandmother constantly asking her to sing to her, and Dr. Jones witnessed how much of a difference those moments made in an otherwise very serious and scary situation. She began to understand the importance of creating an environment that feels safe, loving, comforting, and fun.
Dr. Jones has seen the field of nursing specifically evolve greatly throughout her career. Within the past decade alone we’ve all witnessed how the healthcare industry and its relationships to patients have changed. There’s been many shifts such as telehealth medicine, staffing shortages, a rise in concierge medicine, and so much more that has changed how we take care of ourselves.
“First and foremost, no matter what state you live in, a majority of healthcare facilities, staff, and services are governed by insurance companies. Physicians also aren’t making the same money that they used to, and that’s reflected when you look at the rates in which people are applying to medical school, it’s getting lower and lower.
For my profession in general – and the nurses who hear me talk would be rolling their eyes at me right now saying ‘here she goes again’ – but it’s important to note, with nursing the piece that really gets to me, you have to do some things with your patients, but what’s more important is how you do them.
There’s so many students when I take them for a clinical unit that will come to me when they’re ‘done’ and say ‘okay Dr. Jones I’m finished with this patient,’ and I’ll often reply ‘okay well is that how you would treat your dad?’ and it is amazing how like clockwork they’ll do a 180 turn right back into the room realizing the other things they could’ve been doing if they maintained a better mentality.
I tell the same thing to the other teaching faculty I hire. They have to imagine that if one of their graduates were to be their doctor or their family doctor when they go to the emergency room, as the individual who taught them, your first thought should be ‘thank God’ not ‘oh my god.’ Being the fastest is not important to the heart of healthcare,” Dr. Jones explained.
“Being able to see handfuls of patients quickly with little connection is not impressive or effective, you can always ask more as the professional in a healthcare setting. I really try to relay that the most to my students, remember that you’re in the business of people who are entrusting you with their bodies and their ailments, keep that at the forefront of your mind.”
“It’s not about what you do as a doctor, it’s how you do it, that’s a real critical piece, and oftentimes you don’t appreciate that until you yourself or one of your loved ones is in the hospital, you remember how you get treated.
It’s important to note that this is also not always at the fault of the doctor or nurse themselves. As I mentioned previously, healthcare is governed by insurance companies. So if an insurance provider is telling the doctor that they need to see a certain number of patients in a given day or week in order to fulfill their duties, they’re going to be moving at a different pace.
With our society in general, we’ve truly abbreviated everything. I mean look at how we communicate. We send a simple ‘lol’ to express happiness, and that same concept carries over in everything we do. Unfortunately that applies to this field as well.
As healthcare providers it is our responsibility to give our all to our patients, so it’s integral that we all take a minute, stand outside the patients door, take a deep breath and focus on the situation at hand. That isn’t happening in a lot of places in this industry, and in our overall collective thinking as a culture. Every hospital, shift, unit, and staff has its own culture, and that’s why you see so many professionals trying to work within agencies because they don’t want to be a part of that culture,” Dr. Jones stated.
The current state and culture of healthcare and its negative impact on patients everywhere is why Dr. Jones is such a necessary leader in her field. Its professionals like her that keep the individuals who take care of us grounded and focused on our health. Her ability to not only
sympathize, but empathize with her patients, staff, students, and beyond is what makes her such an inspiration in the field of healthcare, and in general.
“In life it’s important to slow down and live in each moment, professionally and personally.”
“It’s really important to take a good hard look at our profession. Nurses literally keep us alive, so if they’re rushing, where does that leave us as the patient?
I had a nursing student once who told the class some amazing guidance her mom would give her growing up. She would tell her not to ‘should’ all over herself, and that’s such an important takeaway for life in general. Don’t drown yourself with ‘oh I should be able to do this, I should’ve done that,’ you have to get to the point where you tell yourself every single minute that you’re doing your best, because you’re taking the time to breathe, and reassure yourself that you know what you’re doing.
I tell all my students that when they start practicing, they should have the attitude that their patients are so lucky to have them every time they step into their room.”
In addition to contributing to the industry to make sure patients are being taken care of the best they can, Dr. Jones is also a major advocate for healthcare professionals when it comes to taking care of their mental health and practicing mindfulness techniques to keep themselves grounded.
“If you are running on empty, you can tell. You become robotic and unattentive in ways you may not even realize. No one wants a doctor or nurse to be like that, and the professionals themselves don’t want to be like that, but the way this industry works makes it hard for them to even tell when they’re running out of fuel.
Part of my speaking engagements involve going to different facilities around the country and ‘refueling the staff.’ They typically don’t think that they need it, but it’s the classic procedure of putting on your oxygen mask first when on a plane. How are you going to be any help to anyone else if you’re not first taking care of yourself?”
Systemic industry flaws can seem impossible to combat, which is why professionals like Dr. Jones are so important.
“Having these discussions is an important part of moving forward, however, getting people to value the time it takes to have these conversations is a whole other battle. In the classroom setting especially, when it comes to the future generations of healthcare providers, how doctors were taught 20 – 30 years ago is not gonna cut it. Something like socratic learning is not a multigenerational tool that will be successful for everyone; it’s about adapting.”
Dr. Jones and a colleague are also currently working on a workbook on rediscovering teaching skills.
“Students want to be engaged in their learning, when we place focus on the student and their wellbeing and how they learn, they’re going to want to be there. They’re going to feel valued and get a greater appreciation of the value of what they’re learning to do. In life, you have to unlearn to learn. It can honestly be a painful experience because it feels like you’re going against everything you were taught in order to be a successful well-rounded human, but again, it’s all about adapting.”
“I see this the most when I’m speaking with other teachers in the field. There are so many unengaged students in lecture halls that have a professor simply reading paragraphs off of a powerpoint, and it’s just not productive. Information won’t stick as thoroughly without a certain level of engagement. So while it may be hard for these professionals who have been in the field for a while, it’s integral to keep up with their students’ needs, because that’s the best way they’ll find success in not only their students, but in the field overall.
One of the things that I do when I’m teaching a class is develop ground rules. It has nothing to do with the actual content of what they’re going to be learning, it’s about how they’re going to learn. So in a traditional classroom setting those rules would look like starting and ending class
on time, any question is okay to ask in the classroom, and other things that would motivate them to stay curious and diligent.
Any learning begins with questions that lead to discussion, which leads to trial and error, which then leads to reflection and either going back to the question or, ideally, a solution. Most hospitals view questions as a problem that require an immediate and short solution, without any process in the middle. Patients deserve the transparency of details, because they likely don’t have any medical knowledge, at least not at the level a nurse and/or doctor may have, and it’s their body and health, they deserve the answers to the fullest extent they can be given.
One of the most gratifying aspects of my job with teaching specifically is seeing that ‘a-ha’ lightbulb moment happen, and it’s even better when it comes from professionals in the field that I’m leading. We’re all students who are constantly learning, so it’s important to take a step back every once and while and reevaluate your process.
I carry this same philosophy when I’m hiring faculty. Part of my interviewing process will be having the potential candidate stand in for a mini Q&A with my other staff members so they can ask them questions. If the pressure of specificity and answering those random questions seems to be too much, the job may not be the best fit for them,” Dr. Jones explained.
“I give my patients the advice to write down any questions they have for their healthcare provider on an index card and keep that card in your hand for the entire appointment. Do not leave until you’ve had every question answered. It’s a shame, but unfortunately our society has built up going to the doctor as being an intimidating and daunting task. While your doctors and nurses may have more technical medical knowledge than you, they’re there to give you answers and assist you in feeling better, so don’t be afraid to ask even the simplest of questions, you deserve that peace of mind.”
“There are actual hospitals and corporations in the US that mandate doctors see a patient every 20 minutes, it’s unsustainable, and overall worse for both the patient and the staff. How can we expect our nation’s healthcare professionals to perform at the best of their ability if they’re forced to rush through each appointment while thinking about the next one they have to rush to?
How can we trust a system that views us as a bullet point on a list? We’ve got some ways to go systemically in healthcare, but my work, and the people I teach, lead, and hire, they give me hope.
I was giving a talk to about 500 physicians in the Midwest several years ago, and I asked them ‘how many of you are experts in the field?’ Obviously hands flew up in the air, it felt like my hair got blown back with the swiftness of it. I put up the quote by Shunryu Suzuki:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”
You could hear the faint ‘oohs’ while everyone’s hands slowly moved down. If you think you’re an expert you have a limited amount of wit to evaluate, assess, and proceed, you can’t do it with that narrow focus. So what I’m trying to do is create ‘beginner professionals.’”
Dr. Lauren Jones works hard every day to inspire future generations of healthcare professionals, while improving the industry as it currently stands. Systemic change can seem like an impossible feat, but when we learn about individuals like Dr. Jones who are not only in the industry, but working to actively make it better for the rest of the nation, it doesn’t seem like such an unattainable goal.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.