Workplace Harassment in Healthcare Continues

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The O&P EDGE reached out to Maggie Baumer, JD, clinic manager for Hanger, Springfield, Massachusetts, for an update on workplace harassment in O&P. Baumer is also president-elect for the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics (NAAOP) and part of the Alliance Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment.

O&P EDGE: Bring us up to date on the initiative the committee is working on as it relates to O&P workplace harassment.

Baumer: Back in 2019, it came to light at some of the O&P national meetings that sexual harassment in O&P was a consistent and present issue. Based upon member description and discussion on this topic, the O&P Alliance (AAOP, ABC, AOPA, BOC, and NAAOP) decided to take action and formed a subcommittee on harassment and set out to provide education and resources to the field.

Our first step was to create a Resource Guide, which includes links to articles, PowerPoints, podcasts, codes of conduct, webinars, and websites that feature tools to aid O&P managers and stakeholders in preventing harassment and creating a more inclusive work environment. The committee also created a presentation—Workplace Harassment Tools and Guidance: Promoting Dialogue and Creating a Respectful Work Environment—which was presented at several O&P national meetings last year.

During the most recent subcommittee meeting, members discussed sending out a survey to the O&P field to assess the effectiveness of this presentation and current resources and to find out what other tools and resources would be helpful to our community. We published the survey on February 9, and have received hundreds of responses so far.

O&P EDGE: What are some of the steps that can be taken in an effort engage this issue across O&P?

Baumer: It would be wonderful for all O&P providers to commit to learning and keeping an open mind on this topic. We can best support our field by asking individuals and businesses to look into their current practices and survey employees and perhaps other stakeholders so that they can learn and discover what issues might currently exist and then take follow-up steps to address them. This type of effort does not fall on a single individual. Rather, it's about creating a workplace cultural shift that values diversity and inclusion not only as an antidote to bullying, sexual harassment, and other types of destructive behaviors, but more broadly to create a respectful, collaborative, and inclusive work environment.

The ultimate goal is to increase satisfaction for both employees and employers, which will inevitably impact the satisfaction of our patients. In order to attract and maintain curious, committed and passionate employees, we need to ensure that we contribute to dynamic, compassionate, and adaptive workplaces.

We need champions across the field/industry and the subcommittee is always open to feedback.

Baumer can be contacted at mbaumer@hanger.com.

To participate in the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LRVLQ3Y.