We sat around the dinner table and talked, and talked, and talked. People came and went. Still we talked and discussed and shared. I’ve always been suspicious of speakers who claim to ignite conversations that last into the night yet these past few evenings have proven to be filled with conversation centered around the ideas shared during the day. I cannot stop thinking about patient safety and neither, it appears, can my fellow students.
What has impacted me most today has actually not been the topics discussed. While I whole-heartedly enjoyed and learned from John Nance’s talk and took so much practical knowledge away from the informed consent/shared medical decision discussion, what really hit me was everyone’s PASSION for keeping patients safe and free from harm. Yes, I realize that right now we are all flying high on the energy and cheerleading that comes from being around like-minded people coming together to focus on a common goal. Yes, I realize that in a few weeks we will be hit with the “real-world” again. But I must ask myself, “if a group of students is so incredibly on fire that they can’t stop discussing patient safety for a dinner break or sleep, how on earth could they ever conform to a culture that harms patients?” I look around the room and I see people interested in bringing patient safety into the classrooms of America, people who are developing the guts to contradict attendings in the name of patient care, people looking to directly develop health systems focused on minimizing medical errors, and people who desire to publish and run figures on data in order to bring our healthcare problem into the limelight.
While I appreciate that our passion may sizzle out a bit when we leave Telluride, and that things may not go as smoothly in our heads as we’d like, I believe we have made the first step towards changing medicine. We have discovered a passion, we have a vision, we have a “point of view” that has been shaped by our experience here. No matter where we go or what we experience in the future, we will always have the lessons learned here to guide us every day and to act as a reminder in the back of our heads to maybe double check an order, speak up if uncomfortable, inform patients of all risks and benefits, and put our patients first. From this we can build a network and system that is capable of changing American medicine.