Proud, Humbled, and Somewhere in-between!

To say today was educational, informative, and life-changing would be an understatement.

Before the conference we were instructed that we would be introducing a fellow conference attendee at an icebreaking event. We were encouraged to email and get to know one another in order to provide a concise yet effective introduction. My partner and I had many interests and motivations in common- we are both from Oklahoma, we both are interested in mastering the skills necessary to become patient safety advocates, and, perhaps most importantly (or most movingly), both of us have lost a grandfather to an avoidable medical error. In our introduction we both shared this information with the group which I felt made the group more tight-knit because of the personal connections that echoed throughout the room- it seems everyone in some way has been directly affected by an adverse medical outcome. The camaraderie I felt after sharing a bit of my personal story and getting “past the surface” made me even more empowered to learn all I can to excel in the very necessary yet under-explored field of patient advocacy. I felt safe in the presence of these ‘fast friends’- safe enough that I began timidly approaching the questions that fill everyone’s mind who has experienced an avoidable medical error. I honestly did not foresee myself sharing these details of my story with the group here, though it was a motivating factor in my attendance. For those reasons, I am proud to say I am attending this conference and networking with fellow medical (and future) professionals. I am proud to be a part of a shared goal and what I believe is a movement that will revolutionize medical practice in the upcoming years.

I will once again say I am humbled to be here learning this valuable information. I alluded to the importance of this event in my last blog post. I continue to be amazed at the accomplishments of my peers that surround me. We have medical students, both MD and DO, from multiple schools. We have nursing students from all corners of that vast field (NP, PhD, master, BSN). We have masters in health admin students. We have students who are working on MD/PhDs or MD/MPHs. We have students who have done years of research on patient safety and quality improvement. We have students who have worked with the underserved both in our country and overseas. We also have students from other nations. At times I catch myself wondering how I was chosen to attend this conference- I can’t compete with those people! My list of experience is short, to say the least! But in response to those thoughts, I remember how humbled and grateful I am for being given this opportunity. It is truly incredible the idea sharing going on in each discussion! The combination of differing opinions, expertise, and various backgrounds and experiences in patient safety make every one of our key topics thought-provoking, inspirational, frustrating, overwhelming, and promising.

The topics are so interesting and challenging- we are all exhausted at the end of the day! Despite this, we meet up for dinner, cocktails, hot tubbing, workouts, and exploring the beautiful area… all while continuing discussions from earlier in the day. The director told us this would happen. Of course, like all students, I half rolled my eyes and didn’t believe him. The conversations at dinner alone were more in-depth than any patient safety lecture I have had (and, safe bet, anyone else at the table has had) in my medical education! I so hope that this camp empowers us all to be catalysts of change in our communities and hospitals and make the topic of patient safety a priority before insurance battles, physician compensation wars, and political fights.

I am so excited to see what else the week has in store for my fellow students and me! From our dinnertime and happy hour discussions, I can tell the rest of the week will be met with some impressive thought sharing. My final thought is this: Bring it on, Telluride! (Can you tell they’ve empowered us?!)