Today’s post is by Guest Author, John Nance, Telluride Experience Faculty, Author and ABC Aviation Consultant
Having had the delightful experience of attending and working with all of the sessions of the Telluride Experience this summer, I’ve spent some time since returning from Napa thinking through the scope and the effectiveness of what we all came together to advance: The goal of never again losing a patient to a medical mistake or nosocomial infection.
It may well sound hackneyed, but in fact I think all of us as faculty mean it to the depth of our beings when we say that the medical students and residents and nurses – all of those who joined us – are truly the best hope of changing the course of a noble but tattered non-system that slaughters people at the rate of 50 per hour. That does not mean that existing healthcare professionals cannot or will not embrace the dramatic changes that are required to keep patients safe, because, indeed, thousands are passionately involved in just such efforts. It does mean, however that the opportunity for leadership from the newer members of this profession will be critical, from the small and subtle gestures, to the grand and sweeping reforms.
And the potential for meaningful leadership, of course, is why those who joined us were selected in the first place, and what we expect of them from here on: Courageous leadership steeled against the oppressive influence of the status quo.
Having participated in this battle for patient safety for nearly a quarter of a century, I can say with some degree of authority that no matter how many presentations, discussions, articles, consulting hours, or other efforts are thrown at the problem nationally, creating a major cultural change is perhaps an order of magnitude more difficult when you’re surrounded by the very environment you’re needing to alter. Coming together at a distance – especially in a resort atmosphere, or in the incredible beauty of Telluride itself – is an important element in achieving transference of ideas, concepts, goals, and determination as free of dogmatic and traditional thinking as possible. And, of course, catching people at the beginning of their careers before the insidious influence of cultural rigidity has been allowed to take root and oppose change, is an equally important key. I know of no better forum than this, and I’m truly honored to be a part of it.
And so we came together and told you horrifying stories that made us all cry, exposed young learners to the realities and predictability of professional human failure, and rubbed all our noses in the reality that a profession whose routine operations count as the third leading cause of death in America does not possess the ethical choice to resist meaningful change.
But at the end of the day – and our time together – it all comes down to taking those small sparks of understanding and recognition and fanning them into flames back home, never forgetting that every hospital room, scheduled surgery, ambulance arrival, admission, or diagnostic test involves a fellow human who is as entitled to the highest standard of care and caring as your own family.
From a very personal POV, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting each of our participants this season and pushing the quest forward, and I look forward not just to next year, but to hearing how the seeds we all helped sow will sprout and change the landscape of American healthcare.