Reflection: two weeks after Telluride, Colorado conference

I imagine many of you are feeling what I am feeling- nostalgia for the alpine air and brisk breeze in clean Colorado as we sat with the door wide open in an old train station while we listened to quality and patient safety talks and engaged in team-building activities. The education we received has been applied first hand in my MedStar Quality Improvement project on diagnostic error. I recall the concepts of cognitive and pre-constructed bias that blur physician decisions; the Swiss cheese model and human factors engineering to improve the medical system; understanding context and effective communication to prevent and address error; care for the caregiver and mindfulness of surroundings.

I’m astounded how quickly I made close relationships with the faculty and other students, which goes to show teams can be built quickly and spontaneously. My roommates and I would commute via the gondola daily together and wait for each other, ensuring no one in on our “team” was left behind or alone in a new setting. While trekking up the mountain, different groups broke out into  their own paces. I was in the “lagging” group that relied on oxygen canister puffs but we all made sure even the caboose would reach the top of the mountain, even if it meant more frequent “breathing” breaks. The faculty integrated their experiences into their insights- from John Nance’s analogy to aviation safety to Gwen’s interpretation of art exercise to emphasize context to KPW’s real-life nursing example about a sponge left behind in a patient at her health system, to Tim, Dave, and Carol’s own personal stories to patient safety. People connecting with people is how to improve medicine on every level; from the team-based practice of medicine, to better operating health systems, to a healthcare provider listening and respecting a patient.

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