Published: Jan. 13, 2012
Updated: Jan. 13, 2012
Durham Regional Hospital's new Student Ambassador Program, which started in summer 2010, enlists the help of local university students to serve as patient experience ambassadors in the Emergency Department (ED) and Perioperative Services -- all in an effort to help improve the patient experience.
“Our ambassadors have fulfilled a critical role in improving our customer service and communication with patients,” says Bianca Briola, director of Nursing Business Operations and Patient Experience.
“The Ambassador Program, in conjunction with other initiatives, has allowed the DRH Emergency Department to achieve the highest patient satisfaction scores in its history, and two consecutive quarters exceeding the 75th percentile in its peer group.”
The ambassadors perform a number of functions, such as greeting patients, maintaining the patient waiting areas, talking with and comforting patients while they waiting for care, and keeping loved ones informed of the patient’s status.
“We have found that, sometimes, patients who are waiting to see the doctor or clinician can feel more comfortable asking questions and expressing complaints to our ambassadors,” says Briola. “The compassion and enthusiasm they provide is of great value to our patients.”
According to ambassador Elizabeth Cotton,“We act as liaisons between the patient and the care team in some situations.” Cotton spends time each week in the ED visiting the patient rooms and waiting area to ask if patients and visitors need anything to help them feel more comfortable. She often brings pillows, blankets, and snacks, and helps with bed adjustments or other services.
She says the experience has exposed her to the medical environment, and helped solidify her decision to apply to medical school.