Human limitations/structural concerns

I’m thankful for Carole Hemmelgarn bringing her story and background in communication to Telluride, and demonstrating to us the ways our human minds are perfectly capable of interpreting the same images and words we hear, see, and read in different ways. In order to become a healthcare professional, we have all had to demonstrate the high level of skills in abilities like memorization of vast quantities of materials. We focus a lot on the skills we have or will acquire with little direct thought regarding our human limitations. I am thankful to have had this exposure to learning about the things I inherently cannot help but get wrong, or otherwise have an inability to see the same way as all people in a room. While optical illusions are a great example, there are similar things that can happen in clinics or hospitals.

I came away today with a lot of new and invigorating ideas to enact such important changes borrowing from a human factors engineering perspective. However, I think it is important to not get too comfortable. So, in the spirit of transparent communication, I want to bring the following issue up.

When changing to thinking about what is responsible, cynical attitudes can come up in conversation about whether or not change in culture also includes wholly acknowledging structural problems on a greater scale. I am wondering how much attention is being paid to factors that contribute to the strain and burn out of healthcare workers. For instance, if we are to consider human limitations, then I would like to hear more about how safety also includes making sure that healthcare workers do not feel like pawns being worked to the bone, but instead feel rewarded and laden with resources to take care of both patients and themselves. I believe there is so much valuable work being done already. But I am concerned that changes in culture cannot be maximized unless people feel fully empowered by a structural environment that truly allows them to provide best medical care. This can include a reasonable number of patients under one’s watch, and compensation that feels proportional to the amount of work done. Too often I have heard sentiments from nurses, doctors, and others who feel strongly about the inadequacies in the health industry on those factors and certainly others. I know I would feel more inclined to invest in a system that invests back in my holistic well-being as a caregiver.

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