What Will Your Verse Be…

A tribute to a gifted storytelling talent and teacher.

Terry Heick, teacher and blogger, gives additional tribute to Williams, and to teachers who inspire selflessly in, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. To quote:

He whispered to students in a sing-song, melancholy, and haunting tone on behalf of those that had come before. It was never about him, but about the ultimate invitation–inviting a potential learner to something worth understanding.

To me, that’s teaching.

As far as his character in DPS (Dead Poets Society), it wasn’t so much the quotes and themes (carpe diem) as it was his devotion to something greater than himself–and his ability to see his limited role in that fragile process. Students deserved to understand literature–that seemed to be his position. So I took those ideas, and formed what I thought about teaching.

What can I do to help students climb over and around me?

To not need me?

To trust themselves enough to reach out and take something?

Who were the teachers you remember? We talk about educating the young and the need to rework medical education in a way that addresses the needs of today’s healthcare, yet change comes slowly. Where are the “John Keatings” and “Terry Heicks” of medical education?

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John Wooden’s Spirit Alive and Well at MedStar Health

This week I again had the pleasure to hear Paul Levy (Not Running A Hospital) speak at a MedStar Health Quality & Safety retreat. Paul’s gentle reminder–that transparency in healthcare is something all of us have to own, not necessarily because someone is watching, but because we hold ourselves accountable to higher standards–was motivating. He quoted John Wooden–the great UCLA men’s basketball coach, reminding healthcare leaders in the room that, “If they haven’t learned it, you haven’t taught it.” As an athlete and coach myself, Coach Wooden has long been a virtual mentor for me. Wooden’s gentle giant approach and his unwillingness to settle for anything but the best effort everyday is an example of excellence in and of itself, but he was also a committed teacher and knew that if his students/players didn’t “get it”, his job was far from done.

Paul’s talk this week also reminded me that leading culture change in healthcare isn’t easy, and requires all of us to recommit to the principles we value–like transparency–even when it’s not necessarily the popular or easy choice. Wooden is a wonderfully invoked example of a leader whose commitment to his own foundational values of hard work, friendship, loyalty, cooperation and enthusiasm, led to unmatched success on the collegiate basketball hardwood.

What is our pyramid of success for healthcare, and can we stand firm–gently, calmly, confidently–because we know it’s the best way to achieve the safest, most cost-effective care for our patients?

And finally, here is a link to a previous Transparent Health blog invoking John Wooden’s spirit–this time around a Telluride Educational Roundtable discussion on the lack of training in informed consent and shared decision-making for resident physicians.


Patient Stories Provide A Lasting Learning Experience

Movies that address important issues can ignite strong emotions universal to all of us. Some movies make us angry, some make us laugh–others strike a nerve that motivates us to do better or join a cause. From an educational point of view, emotion generated through film and visual images can create teaching moments unachievable through traditional methodologies. When these moments are reinforced with interactive group discussion, the stories remain in the heart and the knowledge encoded in ways unique to visual and emotionally driven stimuli.

Two additional patient safety educational films that do a wonderful job of educating through our hearts and motivating through the emotional response they evoke are: First, Do No Harm® (FDNH) and The Josie King Story. Both films use true stories to motivate audiences and create lasting change so that similar mistakes do not happen again.

The film First, Do No Harm® (FDNH) helps healthcare teams navigate the complex issues we as care providers face in our efforts to deliver the best outcomes for our patients. The three part film series takes on a multitude of important topics, including:

  1. How systems fail
  2. Teamwork, handoffs and communication
  3. Creating just organizational cultures
  4. The importance of board and executive engagement in supporting frontline healthcare professionals
  5. Managing media coverage of medical errors

Based on incidents drawn from real malpractice claims, the First, Do No Harm® series presents the dramatic story of how a healthcare community responds when a healthy pregnancy turns to tragedy as a result of a series of medical failures. Through one expectant mother’s journey, the film shares the spectrum of safety and ethics issues that can arise in a busy healthcare system. The series consists of three sequential case studies, each approximately 20 minutes in length. The film also includes commentary from leading experts in healthcare and other industries, as well as facilitators’ guides developed by risk management educators that detail scene-by-scene learning objectives and discussion points.

The second outstanding patient safety educational film is The Josie King Story.  In 2001, Sorrel King, Josie’s mother, addressed the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) conference. It was the first time Sorrel had spoken publicly about the medical errors that led to Josie’s death. Captured on film, Sorrel’s sharing of Josie’s story and her powerful educational insights have inspired caregivers and hospital administrators to take up the cause of patient safety in their daily work. The film showcases a mother who asks medical professionals to look, listen, and communicate in order to create a culture of patient safety. According to the Josie King Foundation, over 1,200 healthcare institutions around the world use this educational movie as a training tool to emphasize the importance of communication and teamwork in patient safety.