Three ways the security profession can take ownership of violence prevention in healthcare

In 2018 I wrote a LinkedIn article titled “Three things every healthcare security manager should be doing.” I spoke about the need for healthcare security leaders to take ownership of workplace violence prevention (WPVP) efforts within their organizations. (read the full LinkedIn article here) In the last two years, my views on taking ownership of WPVP programs have only grown. I firmly believe security leaders must take ownership and lead their organizations to grow and develop violence prevention programs.

The challenge that I see is that we have not worked to make violence prevention a standard tool in our tool belt, and we have not developed a larger professional stance on the issues surrounding violence against healthcare workers. Ultimately, we have not taken ownership as a profession, and this lack of leadership is a missed opportunity for us to collectively take a stand and demonstrate the immense value we bring to this issue.

There are many ways in which our profession can take a lead in violence prevention. Three ways stand out to me as key to our success in establishing ownership:

First, we must begin building cross-organizational and cross-discipline collaboratives. Taking a lead means building teams that can tackle this problem comprehensively. It will take ideas from across the security profession along with other healthcare professionals to build more holistic solutions that work. We must build coalitions that involve nursing, risk management, occupational health, and others across our industry in order to increase the success of our efforts.

Second, we must start identifying centers of excellence. Just as our clinical partners identify centers of excellence, as security professionals we must identify organizations that are excelling in violence prevention and point to them as benchmarks for the industry. Benchmarking is a tool that easily translates to healthcare leaders and allows us to leverage the examples of others as a means to move our own programs and solutions forward.

Third, we must educate ourselves professionally and seek the development of curriculum by our security professional organizations, like the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS), that allows us to grow our violence prevention skills. We must seek to certify a new generation of healthcare security leaders as violence prevention specialists and equip them with the tools to impact the whole of our industry.

These three steps are critical if we are to own violence prevention both within our industry and within our organizations. As a profession we owe it to ourselves and our colleagues to act to provide the knowledge and tools necessary to take the lead. The growing issue of violence in healthcare will only continue to garner the awareness of healthcare leaders. If we are not poised to take the lead, others will, and we will continue to sit on the sidelines as others produce solutions for us. This fight is our fight, and we must act together. The tools we can offer are critical to reducing acts of violence. If we allow others to take the lead, then our organizations will miss out on utilizing their best resource. Violence prevention is our business.

What are your thoughts? In what ways have you taken action to own and lead in your organization? Join the conversation in the comments below, and don’t forget to like, follow and share to support The Proactive Security Blog.

2 Thoughts

  1. You hit on some very good points regarding security professionals being at the forefront. As a security professional, I agree that we should be leading many of the forums in healthcare and in other industries for that matter. The problem that I see or encounter is many organizations don’t view security as a priority until an incident occurs. Security professionals have to continue to work hard to change that mindset so we can have a seat at the table when major decisions are being discussed. Many of our organizations may not have plans in place regarding prevention but rather do things that are reactionary, which could lead to failures as it relates to security.

    Building relationships and educating many about the importance of security and what it means to everyone involved would make for a very successful organization. Prevention is key.

    1. You are absolutely right, but I think ownership of WPVP gives us an opportunity to point to a well documented need that allows us to pull resources for prevention. I think it helps us tell the story more effectively. Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it!

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