2023 ATD San Antonio Member Highlights
Every month ATD San Antonio highlights an outstanding member in the community. View our Member Highlights Archive here.
Mindy Spigel | December 2023
Tell us a little about your career journey.
I am proud to be a nurse. Over the course of my 40+ years as a nurse, I have worked and taught in hospitals, outpatient settings and in universities. I am passionate about creating a great experience for patients, families and the health care team. I am a firm believer that to create an exceptional experience for patients and families, the health care team must first have a great experience. This belief led me into Leadership Development and team building to help leaders and teams create that great experience. Trust and communication within the team, including with the leader, is critical.
What inspired you to write your book, There’s a Snake on My Head! Strategies for Alleviating Fear and Anxiety in Healthcare?
The snake is an analogy. If you are afraid of snakes, and there is a snake on your head and I came in to tell you important things you needed to know in order to care for yourself when you go home, how much would you hear with a snake on your head? I am guessing not very much. People walk into our doors everyday afraid; they have a snake on their head, and they cannot hear us. I became interested in learning about the fears of patients and families and what we could do to alleviate their fears. In 2018, with the assistance of 4 bilingual RNs, we interviewed over 200 patients and families about their fears. I wrote a research report that was published on a patient experience website and had submitted abstracts to present at conferences in 2020. COVID changed those plans.
Another thing that happened with the onset of COVID in March of 2020 was that one of my favorite nurses told me one day that she was worried she would make a mistake because she could not concentrate or focus. At that moment, I realized she had a snake on her head and needed the same things that the patients and families had told us in my research, “Keep me informed, keep me safe and keep me comfortable.” I also realized there were other times the health care team was afraid: new leader, new job, significant change. In these situations, they needed the same three things. So, with a significant amount of encouragement from family, friends, and colleagues, I decided to write my book to more broadly disseminate my research in a manner that was easy to read and very practical.
The most amazing thing, I have learned that the snake is not just present in health care. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and spoken to groups in many different professional fields.
What challenges did you face during the writing or publishing process of your book and how did you overcome them?
I experienced the snake! I finished the book and then told myself I had no idea how to write a book. I was a speaker not a writer. I told myself nobody would want to read it. It was not very long (it is only about 100 pages). And, I had no idea how to publish a book! Then one day I told all these reasons for not publishing to a colleague who looked at me when I was finished and said, “You have a snake on your head.” I realized he was right and that I needed information, comfort and safety to move on. He connected me with an amazing book designer who laid out the book, hired an editor and illustrator, and worked with Amazon to get the book published.
Tell us about a learning & development project you’re currently working on and excited about.
My focus currently is on further disseminating strategies for alleviating fear and anxiety. I have been honored to speak at numerous conferences and organizations. I am speaking about patients’ fears, but also focusing on the team fears. It does not matter whether the customer or team are in health care or not. I have also spoken about onboarding for retention and dealing with fear during times of change, or how do you engage and empower your team to make the changes you are seeking. I have also spoken on reigniting your passion and taking care of yourself.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been so touched to realize my work transcends health care and is applicable to other fields as well.
What are some of your personal learning & development goals?
I want to continue to share my research as I believe it will make a difference.
I want people to find a way to love what they do again and to be passionate about their work. I am so saddened by the toll these past few years have taken on so many people and I want to help.
I want to continue to stretch myself working with organizations outside of health care. They too struggle with connecting to their passion, self care, customer experience, dealing with customer complaints, communication, team building, onboarding for retention, new leader transitions, and dealing with change.
I have also had the opportunity to mentor and coach other people who want to write a book and are experiencing that same snake I experienced. My book would not have happened if I had not had that encouragement and mentoring and so it time for me to do that for others.
John Diaz Jr. | November 2023