Stand Up–Stand Out! #TPSER8

Wednesdays, or the third day in Telluride, has become my favorite day of the weeks spent here at the Patient Safety Educational Roundtable and Student Summer Camps. It is because on Wednesday mornings, the group gathers unofficially at Baked In Telluride for coffee, a burrito or sweet treat before heading to the foot of Bear Creek Trail, our official meeting place, to start the annual (this year three-time) trek up to the waterfall. It has proven to be a great team-building experience over and over again–as we gasp through our excitement, sharing new ideas and unfailing awe of the mountains surrounding us.

What struck me in particular on yesterday’s hike, in addition to the inspiring conversation with my hiking partner Stephanie, was though I have been on this same trail three times in the last year, it is never the same. This year, the mountainside has been left dry and thirsty by a year of low snowpack, and even less spring rain. But despite the lack of water, jutting strong from the side of the waterfall was the beautiful, bright pink flower you see above in the photo captured by Tim McDonald at the pinnacle of our hike. To me, that flower stood for each one of the students here in Telluride, willing to do whatever it takes in order to stand up strong to protect their patients from harm.

It is clear you, and all your Telluride Alumni, are the future leaders of medicine. You have a solid network of support through your fellow classmates and the faculty who believe so strongly that the patient belongs at the center of every decision you will make as a caregiver. Remember this if you feel like you are standing alone, or standing out, when you return to your home institutions. You are all in very good company, even if that company is an email, or phone call away. Dr. Don Berwick wrote yet another heartwarming article, this one published in JAMA, To Isiah, and the following is an excerpt to carry with you as you return to those who have yet to learn what you have this week:

There is a way to get our bearings. When you’re in a fog, get a compass. I have one—and you do too. We got our compass the day we decided to be healers. Our compass is a question, and it will point us true north: How will it help the patient?