Stories that stick with you (Day 2)

Today was exhausting in the best way possible. I am amazed by the caliber of the faculty in this program and how the presenters are able to provoke so much thought out of us participants. My desire to process all that happened today led me into a series of wonderful discussions with my peers that lasted well into the night. I think it was really incredible to have both Carole Hemmelgarn’s story about her family’s experience with failure in health care and John Nance’s talk about how to improve the system on the same day. I don’t know how else to describe my feelings about Carole’s story other than to say that I am shocked and forever changed by it. Because I was fortunate enough to experience Carole’s strength and compassion, I feel morally obligated to do what I can to improve the system. John’s talk, which provided real solutions and a dedication to doing the right thing, helped me channel my frustration with the things that happen in health care.

John’s story about the rookie who spoke up to him as commander and prevented a major airline crash was incredible. When faculty members reflect on times they were less than perfect humans it opens the door to a deeper dialogue among the group. I am extremely grateful to the nurses this evening who shared stories about medical errors they’ve witnessed and how deeply they were affected. Although I may have some valuable experience in improvement work and hospital operations, I don’t yet know what it’s like to grieve for my own patient. That is incredibly humbling. And I need to be mindful of the fact that I’m missing this major component to understanding the issues. I want to do a better job of listening to those who have had these firsthand experiences.

My second line of notes from this week says “‘Stories stick with you more than information’-Dave”. Today has me thinking that the stories are in fact what I will remember most after I leave Telluride.