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  • Writer's pictureJacob Sarasohn

Empathy and Education - The Role of Teachers in Healthcare

It’s easy to agree, empathy has a home in healthcare.

But in a field where everyday actions create enormous impacts, existing within an industry rife with burn out, supporting the minds of many focused on elevated patient experience, we sit at a crossroads.

How, as healthcare leaders, do we creatively foster and support lasting compassion and empathy for our team members? Rolling out of the pandemic scramble, this question has become central to minds of healthcare leadership.

At Royal, we’re not thinking of team member and ultimately patient experience as linear, and our commitment to developing the next generation of healthcare leaders means that our corporate team is working to create programs and processes that support our field members.

The delineation is clear, the corporate team’s role is to make sure that the field team members can show up as their best selves so that they can deliver excellent patient care.

Erik Johanasen guides teams for top-notch patient care.

So, thinking about the team members we support, what would help them show up as their best selves?

As we know, EMS is the front door to multiple career paths, and is commonly known as the best place to start a healthcare career. With the the knowledge of incoming team members expecting to learn and find their footing, it makes sense to focus on the learning opportunities as a key moment in their journey, and it make sense to support the role of compassion there too.

Embedding experiences that foster empathy and compassion throughout a team member’s experience can be what sustains the warmth that’s expected from individuals working in healthcare.

Reading between the lines, the importance of a skilled and empathetic teacher is paramount.

Erik Johanasen is living proof. His journey from EMT to CCT RN Lead (present role) highlights the power of quality education, mentorship, and compassion that leaders must embody as they nurture our healthcare leaders of tomorrow.

Erik Johanasen discussing his journey from EMT to CCT RN Lead

Erik's story began when he stepped into the world of EMS as an EMT at Royal. He found a culture that not only fostered growth but also deeply cared for the community it served. Erik thrived in this nurturing environment and soon found himself moving up the ranks, from an EMT to an FTO (Field Training Officer) before he pursued his nursing degree.

What stands out in Erik’s journey is not just his climb up the professional ladder but the role of environment and empathy. He credits his success and career development to his mentors, a perspective that drove him to become a practicing field team member and educator.

In his own words, teaching EMS skills isn’t a process of transferring information. “It's about being intentional, empathetic, and engaging while fostering a sense of ownership and confidence. We expect our team to be simultaneously engaged and empathetic and without the confidence to perform the skills, neither can be professional.”

Erik’s approach emphasizes the importance of building a comfortable learning environment. He reminisces about his early days as an EMT and the mentors who shaped his career. Their invested, personable, and supportive demeanors left a lasting impression on Erik, molding his teaching style.

When asked about the essential qualities of an exceptional teacher, he highlights three: a desire for self-excellence, intentionality in teaching, and a genuine passion for the subject and the success of the students.

Healthcare leaders seek fresh ways to promote team compassion.

As healthcare leaders looking for creative ways to programmatically support compassion within our teams, Erik is a beacon. The value of interpersonal skills within teaching have ripple effects and the impact of supportive and encouraging culture can be an antidote to the challenges of a stressful environment.


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