Vicki Good Wants You to Pause

With more than 30 years of medical leadership experience, Mercy’s chief quality officer prioritizes balance to avoid burnout.

by Lillian Stone

Feb 05 2020 at 8 a.m.

Mercy chief quality officer Vicky Good
Photo courtesy MercyMercy Chief Quality Officer Vicky Good talks about the importance of slowing down.

Biz 417: Can you think of a time when you may have “failed forward?”
Vicki Good: From 2013 to 2014, I was the national president of the Association of Critical Care Nurses. During that time, I realized that leaders have to be equally comfortable with stepping forward confidently and occasionally stepping back to correct ourselves. Once, I went into a situation communicating in a way that was just too direct. That taught me the value of sitting back and listening.

Biz: What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned?
V.G.: In his book The Pause Principle, Kevin Cashman talks about how Americans are too action-oriented. We jump to conclusions before pausing and looking at a situation from all sides. I’ve learned to lean into the value of pausing.


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Biz: How do you stay balanced?
V.G.: My favorite saying is “It wasn’t broken overnight, so we’re not going to fix it overnight.” My team gets frustrated because we’re trying to change overarching processes, but we have to celebrate the small wins. If you don’t, it leads to burnout.

Biz: How do you manage burnout in the medical field?
V.G.: I’ve done a lot of work on burnout with critical care nurses across the U.S., but there’s not a lot of research on middle management. They’re pushed from below by their staff; they’re pushed from above by their administrators. But the challenge with being a leader in healthcare is that we’re open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. There’s literature showing that the human brain cannot withstand more than 10 hours of ongoing thinking. We require many healthcare workers to work 12-hour shifts. That’s a challenge. In my own life, I try to have at least one day where I unplug completely.

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