My patient safety interest started before medical school where I worked in a medical simulation lab. I absolutely loved my job and the idea that one can practice so many skills without coming near a patient. However, I found that craved talking with patients. They often felt far removed and more difficult to get into that direct “I’m truly making a difference” state of mind that one can sometimes get when interacting with patients. This summer, I’m doing research in communication between residents and attendings and, though I find it interesting, similar feelings have come up. In my (very limited) experience, it seems like most patient safety work can feel far removed from the patient despite being a topic that first and foremost is all about the patient.
Since starting medical I can already see from new medical students how quickly people come to forget that the patient is at the center of everything we do when one has to hold so much knowledge for a proper diagnosis. While this can sound disheartened, I feel it’s only natural. If your head is stuck in a book or staring at a computer, all day you quickly can forget why you got into the field. Even when one does have the chance to interact with patients all you can think about is “am I doing this right?” and not give the patient the proper attention that he or she deserves. I realize with time and experience these barriers will start to fall but if one isn’t taught early that the needs of the patient come first, it may not fully become a part of one’s practice or make it harder to implement later in one’s experience. Each and every medical provider should accept the needs of the patient come first as a personal mantra. The needs of the patient come first. Such a simple idea that can change so much. When we believe this and act upon it, we have the courage to address problem behaviors among our peers whether one is directly interacting with a patient or not.
Now that I’ve written that arguably convoluted thought process (it’s a blog post right? Aren’t all blog posts a little all over the place?), what I hope to gain from attending the telluride summer experience is an increased awareness and knowledge of patient safety to bring back to my medical school to share with others and to guide my future practice. Despite having some patient safety background, I feel like I still have so much more to gain and want to soak up everything we are going to learn and talk about over the next week.