I have had, for several months, this vision of sharing stories with you and so today I begin. These true stories are meant to remind each of us that the reason we are here is for that one patient. No matter what your role, the good you do ultimately has an impact on a single person. You see, every patient we care for is that “one patient.”
In July, 2011, I took a job as a hospital administrator. It would be a big change. I told my family, friends, and colleagues that as Chief Medical Officer I could help many patients. When I look at patient satisfaction data, core measures outcomes, and CLABSI rates, I think of these patients. As I made the change to CMO, I had it all wrong. I would not have the opportunity to help “the many patients,” but a set of individual persons who need to be cared for as individuals. I have known since I was 11 years old, that I would became a physician, but I had no idea what a blessing it would be to be given a patient’s trust, to know the intimate details of their lives, and be allowed to care for each of them. I love to care for my patients, to have the opportunity to make a difference for that one individual person in front of me. So, it is not “the many patients” I think about on Thursdays when I go to clinic. At the end of the day I think about “this patient” or “that patient.” Each of them has a unique face and name, a family, a struggle, and a story. No two are alike. I think of each of them as the individual persons they are and so often this makes me smile as they are such a rewarding part of my life. So, as I look at any good our administrative team has helped to create over the last four years, I must realize that it is not the “many patients” that have benefitted, but it is individual persons who have the misfortune to be ill, have each trusted us with their life, and therefore must now be called our patient.
The story, “My Last Day as a Surgeon,” published in The New Yorker, is an excerpt from a book written by a dying physician. As you read it you will be struck by the courage of this physician. What I hope you will also see is the impact of his illness on the way he performed his job on his last day in the OR. You will see how this “elderly man whose spine had degenerated” unknowingly got the best of Dr. Paul Kalanithi that day. As I sit here finishing my clinic notes, I wonder if each of my patients got the best of me today. . . .
I will continue to send stories but my goal for this blog is they will be our stories. They will come from you and the great things that you and your team do every day. They will highlight the immense impact that each and every one of us can have on one life. They will show the great things that happen here each and every day.
My “New Year’s wish” to you is that somewhere in these stories you will be as inspired as I am by those in our UI Health Care family who give the best of themselves . . . for that one person.
Please send me your stories so we can cherish and learn from the many great things happening everyday here!
—Theresa Brennan, MD, Chief Medical Officer