Using Mission and Vision Statements

I have made a recent job change to a larger health care organization. There is a lot of discussion about mission and vision here. What is the difference between these, and do they really have an impact on an organization? I've heard of personal mission and vision statements and have been encouraged to write one in the past.

Organizations of all sizes may choose to write mission and vision statements. It has a lot to do with their commitment to a direction and purpose. While some health care organizations write these statements out of necessity to comply with industry accreditation requirements, many really do try to use them as guiding principles that tie into the philosophy of the organization.

Simply stated, a vision states where an organization wants to go in terms of its goals and position in either the community it serves or within a particular industry itself. A mission says how the company will get there. It usually includes a set of values that a group of people collectively supports by working in a common direction.

More people every day are seeking out employment with organizations with which they share some common ideals. Writing a personal mission and/or vision statement is a great idea. It really moves you to go deep to identify your values, beliefs, life direction and goals. Your mission also serves as your anchor in everyday situations that challenge your ethics.

If you choose to create your own mission and vision statements, let me make some suggestions. Your mission statement should be easy to recite and simple to understand. It should clearly identify the message of your purpose and be action-oriented. There have been some very helpful books written on mission and vision statement writing, so if you are ready to make the commitment to yourself, I suggest that you first do some reading around the topic.

Additionally, if you ever have the opportunity to participate in the process at an organizational level, I suggest that you seize the opportunity. You'll get a real appreciation for the gut- wrenching and thought-provoking work that goes into the development of meaningful mission and vision statements.

There is one therapist in our clinic who discusses her personal life on a regular basis while in the presence of patients. Nobody has ever approached this therapist about this problem, and my director is usually not in the clinic when this occurs. How do I bring this up without creating too much tension?

Good for you for caring, and I'll bet that others on the team have felt the same way at one time or another. We all agree that some level of social interaction is a necessary element in our work place and is one of the factors that make our jobs an enjoyable place to work. A healthy balance is obviously the key.

That being said, the best way for you to encourage a shift with a teammate around the social dynamics during treatment time is to set the example yourself. The next time you notice too much focus shifting away from patient care and lingering around personal topics, make a concerted effort to withdraw your participation in the conversation.

If you do this often enough, this teammate will hopefully get the hint. If not, you might consider getting up the courage to share your concerns with the therapist. If you choose the direct route, don't make it a personal attack. Be constructive and give your teammate some clear examples that you felt were above and beyond the right mix of social interaction in the clinic.

If this is a newer therapist, you may even want to suggest ways in which he or she may use conversation in a more therapeutic manner to engage interaction among other patients. Last, if you are not comfortable discussing the issue with the therapist, you really should approach your director and explain the situation. If you think that this is a problem, don't think that patients haven't noticed also.

Larry Baider, OTR, is the director of rehabilitation consulting for M.D. Oppenheim & Company, P.C., an accounting and consulting firm headquartered in New Jersey. Larry is also a professional personal coach. He may be contacted at or at his office, (856) 321-3177.

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