stroke program planning

New Year, Next Steps: Goal Setting for Your Stroke Program

As we move into a new year and a new decade, it’s natural to set new personal goals.  The New Year presents a great opportunity to reflect on your stroke program’s accomplishments and challenges, and chart a course for improvement and development over the next year.  There isn’t a wrong way to approach goal setting, but the act of reflection and prioritization can make all the difference as you return to work after the holiday season.  First, reflect on the past year.  What worked for your program?  Who were allies to the program and the patients you serve?  What were the biggest challenges over the year, and how would you assess your handling of these challenges.

Big Hairy Audacious Goal

Next, start to dream about the coming year.  Do you have one BHAG (big hairy audacious goal: for your program and/or your professional life?  Perhaps you break 2020 into quarters and develop 2-3 goals per quarter.  Another approach is the 20 in 2020, where you think of 20 goals or key activities for the year.    The more specific and measurable the goal, the more likely you are to accomplish that goal. While you may have a number of process or regulation-mandated goals, spend some time thinking of the needs of the patients you serve.  If you had unlimited resources, how might you build your program to meet the needs of your patients?  Of course, we all struggle with limited resources.  But the act of limitless dreaming sometimes reveals new ideas for research or program development that might actually be feasible and of great service to your patients.

stroke center program priorities

Stroke Program Planning & Priorities

You may also use this time to think through the necessary activities in your stroke program, what I like to call “housekeeping”.  February is the month of the International Stroke Conference and October is the month of World Stroke Day.  Perhaps these are good months to schedule time to survey the literature and key websites for newly published studies, guidelines and/or regulatory documents that may change your program priorities.  February is also a good month to review your program documents (guidelines, protocols and order sets) to ensure they reflect current published literature.  Develop a plan to structure the housekeeping work to maintain your program so you aren’t just reacting to problems as they arise.  See our Guide to Managing your Performance Improvement Program for worksheets and tips for organizing your program housekeeping.

Dreaming and developing a plan can help ease the drudge of returning to work after the holidays.  It may even spark a new idea that fundamentally shapes stroke care in 2020!  Happy dreaming!