Generations in the Workplace: 8 Tips to Manage Staff Across the Ages

Hospitals & Health Networks—November 11, 2013

The final article of our yearlong Generations in the Workplace series asks eight hospital leaders what problem each found particularly challenging about managing a multigenerational staff and the strategy used to solve it.


Issue: A lack of real-world experience. Strategy: Community outreach pairs residents with seasoned physicians.

Twenty-seven years ago, Leon Root, M.D., former chief of pediatric orthopedics at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, started a pediatric outreach program at schools in underserved areas of the city. Initially, clinicians did musculoskeletal screenings, but they've widened their net to more general health issues like dental problems and obesity, and arrange follow-up care if needed.

In the past seven or eight years, Root has brought along pediatric residents to help veteran physicians with the screenings. "It's a wonderful experience for the residents for several reasons," he says. "First, getting them out of the hospital and seeing what goes on around the city — I think that's important with experience in general. Secondly, they see a lot of normal kids. The more you know what's normal, the more you recognize what's abnormal. So they pick up who has to be treated and who doesn't."

They also practice their nonverbal cues, like taking off their white coats and positioning themselves so they don't seem as big and scary. "This is an opportunity for the residents to sit down with children and look at them and make contact. Make the child relax with them," Root says. "You're friendly with them. You ask what their names are. You make a nice comment about the way they look. And whatever you do, you do it very gently. 'Let's jump up and down. Let's walk here.' You try to take the fear away."

The residents love the program, says Root, who brings lunch for the group before they visit their scheduled school on Fridays — a small gesture that his young recruits particularly appreciate.

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