“This is the way we’ve always done it”, “I have thirty years of experience”, “It’s never gone wrong before”, “I have never harmed a patient before”, and “Why should I change” are just some of the phrases we will hear every single day of our career. We as Generation Y will be challenged and we will be beaten down by some of our colleagues. This is not something that we should be discouraged by. Rather each of these statements should empower us. They will remind us why we began our career in patient quality and safety.
I learned this week that “Zero is achievable!” To achieve zero central line infections, zero preventable deaths, zero patient harm, etc, we need to be honest and open with our patients. Transparency is key. In addition, communication with our patients and with an interdisciplinary team is also necessary. In regards to communication, we need to remember that we are often misunderstood by members of our team as well as the patient. Thus we need to confirm that we are all on the same page even if seems to be redundant.
Furthermore, I learned to not allow my perceptions get in the way of the safety of the patient. We need to make sure that we approach the patient with fresh eyes and look at the problem from every possible side. This means that we need to encourage our nursing staff, our medical students, and our residents to speak up. Not only that, but we need to encourage everyone to speak up. This includes the patient, their family, the dietary staff, and the orderlies. They each have a unique perspective and can offer us insight into what us wrong with the patient.
I could go on and on, but the main thing I learned is that we need to “be the change that you wish to see in the world,”-Gandhi.
We are Generation Y. We are not going to be branded as the “entitled millennials who only care about themselves”. Instead, we are going to be branded as the generation that asks the tough questions and makes the decisions needed to change.
We are tasked with asking questions when physicians say “this is the way it’s always been”. We are charged with changing the culture of medicine, a culture that has been reinforced for many years. We need to stop kicking the can and passing this task to future generations. The change starts with us. Instead of assuming that a nurse heard us, we need to double check. Instead of covering up a medical error, we need to ask why it happened. Instead of telling a patient that we don’t know what happened, we need to make sure we give them the right answers.
We have been given a huge task and it’s going to take a lot of work. This a system that is designed to do exactly what is does–kill 440,000 patients a year and harm millions more. Nevertheless, it is up to us to make sure that we make a difference in this system. It’s not going to be easy. “Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy,”-Bob Kelso, Scrubs.
When we struggle, we cannot give up. We have a duty to ourselves, each other, our mentors, to Lewis, to Alyssa, to Michael, and to millions of others to ensure that we do not give up.
We are Generation Y. The change of medical culture starts with us.