One Sunday evening about a year ago I was cleaning the kitchen after a family dinner and having a conversation with my daughter. My daughter is typically an energetic, high-spirited individual and was particularly quiet this evening.
“Are you feeling okay?” I asked.
She responded with a sigh and shrugged. ”I’m fine, I just have the Sunday scaries!”
This term was unfamiliar to me so I followed up with, “What exactly are Sunday scaries?”
Without hesitation she responded, ”It happens every Sunday around 5 o’clock when you realize that the weekend is over and you have to go to work in the morning.”
My initial response of laughter was quickly overshadowed by sadness that I, too, had the Sunday scaries. Or, more importantly, the realization that I had always had them and hadn’t known it. As a nurse I have always loved what I do for a living, but at that point in time the joy I felt for what I did for a living didn’t align with my day-to-day job. Little did I know that a few months later everything would change.
On November 12, 2015 I began my journey to transform health care. The following day I boarded a plane and headed to the All Iora Retreat (AIR) in New Hampshire followed by several days of training at the Nest (the affectionate name for our headquarters). Unknowingly, those six days were the introduction to the experience of “joy in practice” and the beginning of the end of Sunday scaries.
At AIR I learned that one of the nine drivers of the Iora business model is joy in practice. In 2013, Andrew Schutzbank, VP of Product Development, coauthored an article that highlighted 23 high-functioning primary care practices. The article focused on physicians and the need to mitigate burnout. Primary care practices were identified based on successful innovations that resulted in high performing teams, which ultimately created joy in practice.
What makes joy of practice possible at Iora is that we veer from the traditional health care model and focus on servant leadership. Instead of a hierarchical (or “top-down”) model, Iora values equal input from all Care Team members, regardless of “status”. Servant leaders collaborate with the team, putting team needs as the priority, thus encouraging the team to embrace Iora values and empower them to become high performers. This type of work environment creates a strong sense of ownership by all team members because they feel they have a voice, they’re heard, and are then invested in the outcomes of their work.
The word culture is inserted into conversations on a daily basis. To Iorans that seven-letter word packs a huge punch and plays a vital role in our joy in practice. It is the driving force behind the decisions that we make, how we treat each other, and most importantly, how we treat our patients. Humility, courage, empathy, creativity, and passion are common values shared by all Iorans. If Joy in Practice had a heart it would be called Culture because at Iora Joy in Practice is not just a catchphrase. Happy employees are a priority.
One year ago I was educated on the definition of Sunday scaries. I remember thinking that this was just part of work-life and the main reason that people were so intentional when planning for retirement; they were planning to find their joy. One year later I can honestly say I have found mine. And guess what? With that realization, my Sunday scaries are no more.