Reflections from Monday and Tuesday

Despite my hectic journey to make it to Breckenridge (which I elaborate on in Day 1), I can safely say that my first two days here were emotionally exhausting but very informative and inspiring.  I wanted to use the time I have now to reflect and post a couple of takeaways I’ve gotten so far.

Day 1 (Monday):  I found the Story of Lewis Blackman to be eye-opening and shocking for a particularly unique reason.  On my trip from Dallas to Denver, my flight actually got diverted to Colorado Springs because of a tornado in Denver and the plane I was in not having enough fuel to make it there safely.  When the plane arrived to Colorado Springs, the engine died and so did the AC later on.  After 2 hours of waiting on the tarmac of the airport, with no fuel, AC, ways to fix the plane, or methods to be deplaned, the passengers and I were finally pulled to a nearby gate to get inside the airport.  There was no guarantee of a flight to Denver anytime soon since we weren’t technically supposed to land in Colorado Springs in the first place.  As a result, Haley (a wonderful peer of mine in the program who was on the same flight) and I decided to get a rental car and drive to Breckenridge.  Haley got word that Helen Haskell was also stranded in Colorado Springs and needed a ride.  We both met up with her, got a Hertz rental car, and spent the next two hours driving and talking to each other.  I went from casually chit chatting with Ms. Haskell, learning more about her background and interest in patient safety, to connecting the dots the next day realizing the trauma she experienced with her son’s death.  It gave me a severe case of emotional whiplash and was my first instance of just how close-to-home medical errors can be in terms of their impact and how indiscriminatory they are with the people they affect.

On a lighter note, I found Dr. Ratwani’s lecture on EHRs and Health IT to be really interesting since that’s not knowledge usually covered in the first two years of medical school.  I haven’t learned too much about the ins and outs of Epic and Cerner – just that they are bad to use in general.  This was my first time understanding how they were bad to use in terms of a usable user interface (very anti-Amazon or Google in that regard).  Given that I grew up with two parents who are in IT, it was fascinating to me to see the problems that they still complain about be very present in an entirely different field.

Moreover, the Teeter Totter exercise was fun.  Who doesn’t love to build comradery by standing near people on a plank in awkward positions to avoid cracking a few yolks?  Seriously though, it definitely helped break the ice with communicating more with peers I just met.

Day 2 (Tuesday):  Tuesday was even heavier than Monday.  With the exception of the Mr. Potato-Head exercise, that was a lovely game that taught us about quality control and how to make improvements each and every time one does a process/series of processes.

Care for the Caregiver and watching the film “Bleed Out” were by far the most impactful of the lectures/activities we’ve had today.  Care for the Caregiver was impactful because burnout and physician suicide are volatile topics that have touched my life and the lives of medical students and professionals around me in soul-crushing ways – it always seems like there is no end it sight regarding the numbers there or mitigation against it.  “Bleed Out” was impactful because it was another case of putting the faces of real people with real lives to the data that we see regarding medical errors.  Steve and Margo Burrows’ story showcases the danger of ego getting in the way of not only good medical practices, but humanity as well.