As someone who thinks in analogies, I found it helpful to conceptualize patient safety through the analogy of how people do not rise in the morning planning to say, drive away from the gas pump with the hose still attached, but nonetheless it is still common enough that there is a website full of pictures of cars with gas hoses flopping out of their sides. Thankfully, I also learned that I can be assured that if it ever happens to me, the industry already anticipates that people will do this and have set up a safety valve system to prevent dangerous gas spillage and are prepared to replace with a new gas hose so that business can go on as usual.
It is mind opening to be introduced to a whole new way of thinking about mistakes that anticipates them head on instead of wishing for them to disappear on its own. I look forward to learning more ways to be proactive instead of reactive so that we can work to reduce/eliminate numerous points of miscommunication and process errors that collectively lead the healthcare system to fail patients and their families. The passion and drive of our faculty is great because through their experience and guidance, I can be empowered to go beyond sensing something is wrong and have more tools and know-how to think and act.
I also believe a lot in all the discussion of dismantling harmful hierarchical attitudes when it comes to speaking up to those higher up on the food chain. When we think about safety in the context of communities, I think most people would agree that the more eyes and ears out there, the better. Why should this not apply to medicine? I am happy to hear that health systems like MedStar regard all employees as worthy of being trained to be patient safety advocates. In the end, it does not matter who stops a disaster from happening, as long as somebody does it.
Finally, often times when it comes to advocacy work and enacting change, there can be a sense of hopelessness. I really appreciated the privilege of learning how change can begin from a small nucleus and radiate outwards in the example of the Shirtless Dancing Guy video. It can be uncomfortable to stand up for change but it is reassuring to think of it as a gradual movement, rather than an instant conversion of the masses.