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Member Spotlight - June 2016
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CJ Merrill, MSN, RN, CPXP, NEA-BC, CPHQ


Chief Patient Experience Officer
Mission Health System
Asheville, North Carolina
In her role, CJ works with a phenomenal team and has responsibilities for six departments including Switchboard, Guest Services, Spiritual Care, Advanced Care Planning and Interpreter Services and Office of Patient Experience. She loves working with all of their caregivers as they work with patients and families. CJ enjoys connecting the "why behind the what” as it is only when we understand can we integrate those concepts and practices into our roles as caregivers.

WHAT IS YOUR MOST SIGNIFICANT ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR ROLE?

Over the last 8 months, my greatest and most important role was to establish relationships, build trust and assess the patient and family centered care practices. We have revitalized tools to build engagement and influence experience; purposeful rounding, nurse leader rounding, and bedside shirt report. We have also focused on caring communication which builds on the elements which are most important to patients, families, and care givers and supports our vision and values.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU ARE CURRENTLY FACING?

In this complex and rapidly changing environment, I find that relational or caring communication skills may not be taught in a variety learning environments. Providers as well as caregivers often struggle with how best to connect with patients and families. When we are able to meet the patient where they are and provide individualized care regardless of the setting, I believe we will see optimal patient clinical and service outcomes. The challenge is to make this relational communication just part of our DNA. It certainly cannot be another initiative.

WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON THE FUTURE OF PATIENT EXPERIENCE?

I really do wish I had a crystal ball to see what the future is holding in the experience realm. Healthcare is moving from episodic change to an environment of continual change. I see the continuance of focus on population health and prevention of great importance. We can never lose sight how the emphasis on each individual will drive outcomes in experience and create engagement.

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN WHEN NOT WORKING?

I love to scuba dive (only in warm water), hike, read, stretch using Pilates, relax with Yoga, and play with my two adorable Ladbradoodles. They are preparing to become therapy dogs with our "Paws on a Mission." We have also built raised vegetable gardens this Spring and are trying our hand at "farming,” so time will tell if I pass the gardening test. Of course, travel both within and outside the United States is always high on the list.

WHY DID YOU JOIN THE BERYL INSTITUTE?

The Patient Experience movement is rapidly increasing and rightly so! I have valued my membership over the years as it has provided resources and connected me with colleagues who have the same passion. The content and relevance of the white papers and webinars have been a tremendous asset to my professional development and that of those departments I serve. I feel grateful to have served on the Beryl Patient Advisory Board over the last 5 years.

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