I grew up in a developing country that was beset with problems and it was difficult to believe that positive changes could take place in my country. I came to America and started my residency program with that same belief – the belief that change was extremely difficult and nearly impossible especially when dealing with changing behaviors. People have always been known to resist changes.
The truth is my work has always contradicted my beliefs. I have been involved in several programs that have aimed to institute positive behavioral changes among individuals and even founded such a program back in medical school but I never truly believed in the effectiveness of these programs. I stuck to the dogma that for change to occur, it had to be cataclysmic and evolutionary.
It was with this same mindset that I applied to the Telluride Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety. I hoped to gain tremendous knowledge on how to institute changes among individuals and systems but I wasn’t expecting such knowledge to be of much significance given the deplorable state of patient safety and quality improvement in the American Healthcare system. It was going to be just another conference.
My expectations were cut short on the very first day of arrival when I met with a group of other delegates. I was having lunch with three other guys and we were discussing when I said, “Everything we discuss in this conference will probably have no use until twenty to thirty years from now.” I was met with silence and at first I was embarrassed at my statement but it got me thinking about how passionate these guys were. I listened to their stories and heard how they were making “little changes” in their hospitals which was amazing. They actually believed in what they were doing and not just doing it.
The following day, while giving a presentation, Dave made a comment which was well-known to me but struck me in a different light. He said, “Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” His words resonated like I was hearing them for the first time. Those words have got me pondering on the need to actually believe in the works that I do to bring about positive changes because maybe in those little successes that I have achieved, a revolution is being born.