I think big and dream bigger but have been told many times in my life to stop doing so. My grade 10 careers advisor told me to aim lower when I expressed an interest in studying medicine, a male physician once told me that training a woman was like training half a doctor and I’ve even had a family member tell me that women joining the workforce are responsible for the downfall of modern society. Despite this, I’m now in medical school and will one day soon achieve my dream of becoming a doctor.
Over the last few days I’ve been given the skills and knowledge to undertake projects that improve outcomes for all patients; I’ve been empowered to make a change. Unfortunately these things take time, you need to carefully plan, analyse, monitor and assess. You need a specific problem to tailor your specific, well researched solutions and I am sure in the months and years to come I will use the things I’ve learned and the frameworks provided to make change happen. However, at this point in time, my goal is big and broad, it’s in no way specific and while I’m prepared to to do my due diligence and execute some high quality, quality improvement projects once I find my focus, right now I just need to do something. Improvements to patient safety education shouldn’t have to wait for me to specifically define the problem in a measurable way or wait to get ethics approval. It can’t wait, not while I know there are things I can be doing that will have some impact right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I know we need to improve patient safety, safely by following the right processes and procedures but today I am going rouge, I am not going to wait. Like a hungry Roundtable delegate on the hunt for a burrito I am going to take action. Tonight I will email my contacts and state my case to ensure that patient safety is on the agenda of every student-run educational conference in my state this year. Additionally, I will push to have a safety moment at the beginning of each event my medical society hosts. Lastly, because I can’t be everywhere at once, I will make a time to train others in my medical society so they too can be safety coaches and start getting the word out about this important issue.
One day soon (when step 1 is behind me), I will start the research and do it the right way but I won’t sit ideally by in the mean time. Watch this space.
Finishing medical school is about looking back to your time as students and looking to the future as new graduates.
It’s the future I want to focus on. Medical school is just part of the continuum of medical education. You’ll keep learning new facts and new techniques. You’ll even find that as years pass and knowledge increases some things you learned in medical school have become obsolete or outdated, overtaken by new information.
But some things never change. One of these is the need to always put the patient first. It sounds so simple, but there will be many temptations to put the patient’s need lower on your list of priorities.
Many events and people will influence you. Some of these events will be errors you or others will be involved in. Most errors are not the fault of an individual, although the individual may be the last factor in a string of contributing causes. Most errors are the fault of a system where the safety of the patient is not always paramount. And when they do occur, they should always be seen as opportunities to learn and improve.
The people you meet and work with can influence you. Not all will be good influences. Some will be arrogant, some will cut corners, some will ignore protocols, some will not show respect for their patients or for other health professionals. Some will not put the patient first.
You’ll meet others who treat staff and patients with respect, who aren’t self-promoting, who sit at the bedside to talk with patients, who listen, who understand the value of other members of the care team, who want to learn as well as to teach and who put the patient at the centre of every decision.
Both groups have the potential to be role models, particularly if they have strong personalities or are much more senior than you. So pick you role models with care. Decide who you want to be like and who you don’t want to be like.
Here are my 10 tips for new graduates, tips that will help you right through your career, but more importantly, tips that will help your patients, giving them good care and keeping them safe.
- Never forget that patients are vulnerable.
- Remember that you are the guest in your patient’s illness.
- Listen to your patients. “What’s the matter with you?” is a good question but your care will be better if you also ask “What matters to you?”
- Use simple, clear language with your patients, remembering that good communication involves listening.
- Work collaboratively with and learn from nurses and allied health professionals.
- Admit your mistakes and use them as opportunities for improvement.
- Don’t accept standards and behaviours that aren’t in the best interests of the patient. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
- Keep learning, stay up to date.
- Never let people put you on a pedestal. Stay humble.
- Always put your patient first, never forgetting that “It’s all about the patient”.
Have a wonderful and fulfilling career.
Following are leads from Resident Physician reflections after attending the first 2016 session of the Telluride Experience. Links are included back to the original posting on the Telluride Experience blog. Thanks to all who so courageously offered their stories from the front lines of care so that others can learn through them. It is by sharing our stories that we free another to tell theirs as well.
The Magic In Transparency
This phrase struck me as the perfect way to describe an experience I had my intern year. My first continuity ob patient had a fetal demise at 34 weeks. She was the first patient I had followed from the beginning of her pregnancy. I performed her dating ultrasound at 9 weeks. Unlike many of my patients, she and her husband faithfully came to every prenatal visit. She did not smoke, use drugs and followed the dietary guidelines. Her husband was the chatter one of the duo, while she would calmly take everything in at our visits. They both teared up when I told them they were having a girl at the 20 week ultrasound. They told me her name was Emma. More…
I was not going to share this but have been inspired by the courage of others around me. So thank you!
…In the first few days of Residency, we had a mandatory “Emotional Harm” meeting. I thought it was nice of them to do and always a good reminder. It focused on the empathy towards the patient and not losing our empathy when getting in the rhythm of dealing with similar situations and cases over and over again. I loved that they did this. This is something that is so important to remember and necessary to address.
Looking back however, I just wonder what about my emotional harm? Where are my resources? In this first 7 months of my residency experience two Senior Attendings committed suicide. I did not know the first, but I certainly knew the second. While there was heartfelt sadness and memorials to honor both, there was nothing else. No counseling offered to employees, no conversations, no checking in after some days, nothing at all. More…
Humility and Humanity
Humility and Humanity. This phrase stuck with me from Dan Ford’s talk. From medical school through residency it is drilled into us to be confident, un-phased, unemotional , these qualities are attributed to professionalism and success. Doctors are supposed to be infallible , so when we face an adverse outcome thats what we do instinctively. We become distant, listening to Helen, Sorrel and Dan thats the exact opposite of what patients need. Alienation only leads to prolongation of suffering for the patients family as well as the caregiver. Moving forward I hope to make these values a foundation of my practice.
Reading all the stories from my peers encouraged me to share as well, this was an amazing group of people and faculty. My first ICU night rotation as a PGY-2 I admitted a patient in DKA and septic shock. More…
Each of our Telluride Scholars adds their own voice and passion to the patient safety movement that continues to need attention. The following are most likely words of unintentional inspiration from Anna Elias who shows what one individual can accomplish when they care deeply about a cause, and dare to dream they can make a difference. Anna is absolutely right — Watch this space! — her space, because she is on her way to great things!
You can also link to the Telluride Blog where Anna originally posted this piece.
As in Doha, SolidLine Media was along to capture the stories being told at The Telluride Experience: Sydney! Thanks to Greg, Michael, John, Ali and team for pulling this short video together utilizing movie magic across the continents in time for the Minister of Health herself to view it live in Sydney, at the Clinical Excellence Commission’s reception for students and faculty before we returned home last week.
Truly a great team effort by all to bring the reflections and voices of change to life.
Taking the Telluride Experience global continues to equally educate our faculty on what both the delivery and culture of healthcare around the world is really like. While many cultural differences exist, it is the similarities in our human experience throughout that connects us all. The local challenges may create the obstacles, but returning to the patient, no matter the locale, grounds every care provider in “how to proceed”. Reflections from yet another impressive group of Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety alumni follow:
I work in emergency medicine. A buffer for the undifferentiated, where time-poor workers battle a “controlled” chaos. It’s also where patients come. Patients who have a stubbed toe, sprained ankle, a cough or a heart attack. By practicing the virtues of patient-centred care we can appreciate that these aren’t patients who have presented to be an inconvenience, but have come because there was nowhere else to go. Ask why. Why did they present. There are many reasons why they present including health literacy and healthcare infrastructure. The truth distills down to the fact that, in their mind, we are their only hope.
Viet Tran, Emergency Medicine, Registrar
It was very important today to see face to face the huge impact that medical errors can have in a person/family’s life; it has certainly touched me and I wish that every health professional I work with got to experience and see the testimonies I have been able to experience today. Seeing a mother with two children who suffer from chronic illness and how their lives have been shaped by this, and how a mother who lost a child in a way that could have been prevented has the courage and strength to re-live this painful experience in order to teach and change in some way how we practice and how we deliver care. This for me was the highlight of the day. Anyone can make mistakes, it can happen to any of us, but we never think that in reality we are going to be in that position. I have been touched by Susan’s and Carol’s talks, they have been just life changing.
Lina Belalcazar, Medical Student
We talk and even joke about aha moments but the past is marked by many such moments that go on to spark movements and eventually change the face of history. In years to come we will look back on the negligent attitudes towards patient safety the same way we look back on segregation and gender inequality, in disbelief. Doctors of the future simply wont believe that patient safety was not always highly valued, well taught and at the forefront of everybody’s mind during each patient encounter.
I am so pleased to have met the leaders in this field and feel privileged to be one of the first followers. Now let’s not stop till everyone is dancing with us.
Anna Elias, Medical Student
I will continue to strive for excellence in patient safety and I will utilise whatever means on hand to achieve our primary goal. A safe and highly satisfactory patient journey. We cannot perform without our patients and they should be central to what we do. This I feel we as a cohort of professions fail to achieve. I am a professional. I am an expert. These excuses create barriers which have become ingrained in our culture. I hope that as evidenced by this conference with the Australians bucking the trend we can continue to do so and continue to strive towards excellence and truly take place as advocates and global leaders in healthcare.
Ben Gross, Nursing
Today another lived experience was shared. It was that of a widowed husband, this time from the UK, who shared the experience of his wife, undergoing what was a routine surgery but ended up not making it to surgery and having a fatal consequence as a net result of an adverse event and subsequent accrual of system failures, particularly those of a human factor nature. This brings to the light the many human factors that we continually witness in practice, which may be harmful especially when aligned in particular contexts, notably in situations that are unfamiliar or deviate from the norm. One of the things I particularly reflected on is how we as humans are fallible to task focus and makes us become situationally unaware. It is something we need to keep in mind when retrospectively analysing incidents. Even I have to admit that I have been unaware on occasion. It is important to be conscious that we can become like that. This emphasises the importance of teamwork, communication and dynamics, which are able to overcome authority gradients and their pertinence to allow goals to be met.
Kym Huynh, Pharmacy
The Telluride Experience faculty has arrived at Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park, an idyllic Telluridesque location in Manly, Australia. The Telluride Experience: Sydney faculty and students will be tucked into this retreat location in Sydney’s National Park just across the water from the lights and cosmopolitan city of Sydney. Q Station and the National Park has a little bit of all Australian terrains, including Manly cove beachfront, bush land and the protection of a canopy of rainforest-like red gum trees.
These spectacular trees serve as home or rest to 150 different types of birds, and resemble our collective efforts at changing healthcare culture by also renewing themselves each year, as they shed their bark presenting a fresh, new salmon colored skin to the surrounding environment.
An old Quarantine Station protecting Australians from smallpox or other contagious disease potentially carried by those seeking to become citizens during the 1830s through 1984, this could not be a more fitting location to host what will be the epicenter of local of patient safety learning over the next four days. Last night, the group shared conversation, introductions and local food and wine to start the week, welcoming one another to yet another intimate and
International patient safety Telluride Experience. Join the conversation on social media, using #AELPS16.
After a very successful Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety: The Doha Experience (#AELPS16) workshop in Qatar last month, our faculty will now head to Sydney, Australia mid-April to continue sharing our Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camp curriculum with future healthcare leaders from around the world. Through the years, many Australian patient safety leaders, such as Cliff Hughes, Peter Kennedy and Kim Oates, have been regular attendees and teachers at our patient safety workshops in Telluride CO, Washington DC and Napa CA. The Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) in New South Wales has also supported a number of young Australian physicians to attend our US patient safety immersive workshops. These young physicians have then gone on to assume quality and safety leadership roles at their institutions upon returning home.
Kim Oates, emeritus professor and Director, Undergraduate Quality and Safety Education at the University of Sydney and Carrie Marr, Chief Executive, at the CEC are the visionary leaders bringing the Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety: The Sydney Experience program to Australia. The Sydney Experience team includes fellow CEC and Australian healthcare leaders such as Telluride Alum Sarah Dalton MD, and first time attendees, May Wong and Teresa Mastroserio. Thanks to the generous support of the Avant Mutual Group, the major medical defense group in Australia, the Division of Midwifery and Nursing, New South Wales Health, and the CEC, over thirty young medical and nursing leaders will be able to attend #AELPS16: The Sydney Experience, an immersive, four-day patient safety education program. The program has also received significant support from Minister Jillian Skinner, New South Wales Minister for Health, who will attend the last day of The Sydney Experience, and will address both learners and faculty.
We are both honored and energized by the opportunity to distribute our patient safety education curriculum to those at home and around the world who have similar passion of finding new and better ways to deliver the highest quality, safest care to patients. In just two months time, we will welcome Qatari and Australian healthcare professionals into our now global Telluride Experience Alumni network. In 2016 alone, over 700 future healthcare leaders will attend one of many Telluride Experience Patient Safety Summer Camps around the world and become part of this growing network of dedicated and caring patient safety leaders.