Healthcare Experience Matters, PRC

Elevating the Patient Experience in Behavioral Health

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We are thrilled to be joined by Michelle Spurlock, MSN, MBA, for this week’s edition of the Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast. This chat is focused on elevating the patient experience in behavioral health and engaging the behavioral health workforce. 

Michelle currently serves as Vice President of Nursing Services with Acadia Healthcare. As a native of Louisville Kentucky, she has spent her 37-year nursing career dedicated to behavioral health. Her current role includes looking at ways to improve patient care, patient safety, and providing mentorship to new nursing leaders.

“When you look at the impact of mental illness on not just the individual, but their family, the neighbors, their community; for me, this is all just really a huge mission,” she said. 

Acadia is the largest healthcare company solely focused on behavioral health.

“We have 239 facilities across the country in 39 states, including San Juan, Puerto Rico,” she told us. 

Acadia has acute care hospitals, residential treatment center facilities for the treatment of adolescents, recovery programs, and comprehensive treatment centers focusing on opioid addiction.

Another pressing issue covered in today’s episode is the workforce shortage issues. Behavioral health nurses have been impacted very strongly by the “great resignation” and retaining talent in this sector of healthcare is of paramount importance right now. 

“Many people may not realize that only 3 to 4 percent of nurses go into psychiatric mental health nursing to begin with,” she told us. 

With the reality of such low numbers, employee engagement has never been more important. 

“Since only three or four percent go into behavioral health, we need to keep everybody that that does go into it,” she said.

According to Michelle, it is fundamental to understand that people want to be heard and valued, and they want to know that they make a difference. When it comes to retaining great workers, the conversation really starts with great communication and equipping your team with the tools to get the job done. 

“We need to focus on rewarding people when they are doing things right and celebrating the wins along the way,” Michelle noted. 

Michelle is a passionate healthcare leader and patient experience champion. Please make sure to tune in to today’s episode as there are many other important topics visited throughout this interview. Michelle’s expertise includes: 

  • Working in Behavioral Health 
  • Teamwork Principles 
  • Conflict Management Resolution 
  • Service Excellence

Watch This Podcast

You can watch this entire discussion now:


Looking for the timestamps of how this podcast breaks down?  Use the below timestamps to jump to any section (time stamps are based on the above YouTube version of this interview):

  • What brings you the most joy when it comes to working in behavioral health? (3:22)
  • What are some of the most pressing issues right now impacting patient care? (5:35)
  • What does it take to have an engaged workforce in behavioral health? (8:11) 
  • What are the important focus areas that impact the patient experience in behavioral health? (10:50) 

About the HX Matters Podcast

Our podcast is dedicated to transforming the health care experience so that every person can receive and deliver the best care.

You can subscribe to our podcast for free on all major podcast platforms and for video of our interviews, you can always check out the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) on YouTube. Catch up on all episodes of our podcast by subscribing and following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music and more.

The last five episodes of the Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast are available here: 

Healthcare Experience Matters, PRC