Psychological Safety

Psychological Safety: the shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. During our break out session, we discussed barriers to transparency and I shared the experience I had with one of my attendings. On our first day with her she sat us all down and told us that this would be a safe environment for us to learn in and that we were encouraged to speak up if we didn’t know or understand something and that we could work on figuring it out together. Kathy pointed out that my attending had used some very nice psychological safety techniques to keep an open flow of communication. I had not necessarily heard of “psychological safety” as a term but I remember distinctly thinking I felt psychologically safe working with her. I also remember wishing that there were more attendings around like her because of (from the medical student perspective at that time) what seemed like an attending really invested in the best learning experience possible for me. But now, though I certainly still think she is very invested in medical student education, I can see that her actions were really in the best interest of the patient. If I had seen something I thought was a little off with a patient’s labs I would not have hesitated to bring this up. Or if I had even done something wrong, I know that it would have been ok to bring this up with Dr. S, and subsequently the patient’s safety and quality of care would have both benefited. I knew there was something different about the way Dr. S did things and I tried to pick up as many of her habits as I could while working with her, but what I didn’t know is that there is an entire culture of people that believe in practicing medicine in the very way that I had been so impressed with after working with Dr. S. I feel very lucky to be here learning from people with such a commitment to spreading these types of philosophies.

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