Telluride: Day 1

After just my first day in Telluride, I believe that the way I will care for my future patients is permanently altered. Whenever I find myself fatigued, stressed, overworked, or even bitter – as I know I am bound to on certain days as a practicing physician – I want to remind myself of this conference and what I learned here. I am surrounded by individuals who are passionate about learning how to practice safe medicine, how to be conscientious caregivers, and how to put their patients’ needs before all else. The most jarring part of the first day was a documentary that we watched on the life of Lewis Blackman. A 15-year-old boy was allowed to die in a hospital because no one thought to go against the status quo. His mother stated that if he were anywhere else but in a hospital, he would still be alive today – it was the one place he could not get the medical attention that he needed. What struck me the most about that film was the fact that the nurses and physicians were not truly listening to the patient’s family. As we discussed afterwards, especially when dealing with pediatric patients, the most important thing is to listen to the mother. If she tells a provider that something does not quite feel right about her children’s condition, then something is not right, and caregivers need to listen carefully to that suspicion. I am brand new to medicine, but I cannot imagine not listening to a family’s concern that things are not going the way they should be with their loved one. They are the people who are with the patient all the time, who can sense the subtle nuances and changes in their loved one’s status. They are our most valuable source of information, our eyes and ears, more so than any medical chart or lab value. I learned a great deal on my first day, but this is the lesson that really stuck with me. This is what I will be reminding myself of each time I enter a patient’s room.

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