Telluride Roundtable: Week Three, Day One–Some Powerful Reflections

Introductions at Telluride Student Summer CampThe day began with introduction ice-breakers as student took turn introducing each other to the bigger group. From the introductions, it was clear that the Telluride Patient Safety Roundtable is hosting an extraordinary group of students this week – Medical Students, Pharmacy Students, and one student obtaining her Masters of Jurisprudence in Health Law. In addition, the Roundtable is blessed with faculty from Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, and California.

Following introductions, the entire group attentively watched the film The Faces of Medical Error – From Tears to Transparency: The Story of Lewis Blackman. Unlike the two prior Roundtables this year, Helen Haskell, Lewis’ mom, was part of the faculty. She offered her own reflections on the events which occurred related to Lewis’ case, and answered questions from students and faculty. At one point Helen made the poignant observation that Lewis would have been the age of many of our students asking the questions. Had he lived, Lewis would have been 27 years old this year. He certainly was gifted enough to attend medical, nursing, or pharmacy school and could very well have attended such a Roundtable.  These observations were not lost on the students today.

In the afternoon, Deb Klamen from the Southern Illinois College of Medicine led the group in a discussion on leadership and the challenges students face in their day-to-day studies, and early clinical rotations. Small group discussions allowed the students to share their own leadership styles, as well as the leadership qualities of those they admire. Over and over a common, yet essential, leadership trait was described by students and faculty – COURAGE – the courage to confront those engaged in unprofessional and unsafe behaviors in a way that could avert future harm to others.

For the last exercise of the day, the students broke into two groups to engage in the now famous [infamous?] teeter-totter egg game. In an ironic twist the first group actually completed the task in the allotted time without breaking the egg while the second group suffered from a last-minute hesitation and injury to the eggs precariously placed below the ends of the teeter-totter. In almost all prior exercises, the first group most commonly fails while the second group learns from the debriefing and missteps of the prior group.

Most importantly, Dave Mayer led the two groups in reflections following the exercise and gave them an opportunity to understand the power of effective, clear, concise and goal-oriented communication tested through this “gaming” situations. The applicability to healthcare was clear to all.