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Mattering Really Matters

29 October 2019

Allison learned about Julie Haizlip, MD MAAP’s research on the construct of mattering in healthcare and pondered what it might mean for all of us

Tags: allison read, balance, health care, healthcare, listening, mentoring, uva

Earlier this month, I attended the University of Virginia’s Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award ceremony. It always one of my favorite events both because the recipients inspire me and those of us who try to attend every year have become kind of a tribe of joyful folks who look forward to celebrating each other, too. I see mentors there each year whom I’ve known since I was an undergraduate at UVA, and it is always a special evening. It’s open to all, so let me know if you’d like to be my guest next October!

This year, my dear friend, Dorrie Fontaine, RN PhD was the recipient. She’s recently retired from serving as UVA’s Dean of the Nursing School, and many of us have enjoyed celebrating her years of wonderful service over the last few months. In May, I blogged about what Dorrie has taught me about how to Show Up and Be Kind.

When I attend these events, I’m always listening for something new I could learn that inspires the recipient I admire. As Dorrie was concluding her remarks, she mentioned her colleague at the UVA Nursing School, Julie Haizlip, MD MAAP. I was first introduced to Dr. Haizlip’s research about the importance of mattering in the article she co-authored with Dorrie and  Ramon Lavandero, RN, MA, MSN, entitled, No Time to Be Nice in the Intensive Care Unit. “A sense of mattering may be one crucial ingredient for resilience. Mattering is a psychosocial construct that describes when individuals perceive that they make a difference in the lives of others and are significant in the world.”

I often work with healthcare providers and others to help them figure out how to choose balance and leadership. Much of the work related to preventing burnout and achieving well-being has to do with making choices that are in line with your core values, getting enough sleep, taking care of your body, managing stress, learning to be more mindful, figuring out how to maximize meaning, minimizing the stuff that isn’t as important, having crucial conversations, dealing with email, making time to vacation well, and a whole bunch of other things that tend to be different for each person.

Since reading about Dr. Haizlip’s background and research interests, I’ve been thinking a lot about how achieving balance is also enabled by feeling like you matter. “We hypothesize that if we can understand what makes clinicians feel like they matter, we may be able to positively impact the epidemic of burnout in physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers.”

I’ll be waiting eagerly for Dr. Haizlip’s insights. In the meantime, I’ll be doubling down my efforts to tell people why they matter to me and showing them they matter in the best way I know how which has always been to listen as though nothing matters more to me than the story they are sharing. I’ll also be talking with myself more often about the things I do that matter. While we need others to convey the sense that we matter, I think it might also be nice if we dialed up the positive self-talk, too.

How do you let people know they matter? What do you that you know matters to others?


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