Wednesday, December 19, 2012

26 Random....

For the past several days, I have struggled with the horrible events of last Friday, December 14, 2012.  A shooter entered an elementary school and shot 6 teachers and 20 first graders.   As a parent and grandparent, as a professional, and as someone who hates guns, this one has been hard for me.  The images, indelibly imprinted in my psyche, are terrifying and sad.  
The media has conjectured extensively about the increased possibility of gun control legislation, as well as the flaws and possibilities of the mental health system.  They have also  revealed a new debate as to whether principals and teachers should be armed.   The shooter's mother, also a victim, has been portrayed in sensational ways (survivalist, gun maven, troubled) and a heroine (mother of a son with many challenging behaviors, unable to access needed services).   There is much conflict in each of these discussions.  Now, our society can add epidemic violence to some of our other woes:  the looming fiscal cliff, wars abroad, and  health care reform    Perhaps it is good that it this new "worry" has moved up on the list that politicians, neighbors, and various advocacy groups can argue about.   The combination of the realities of the events of last Friday and the debate that has followed has dampened my holiday spirit, and that of many others around me.  

And then this morning, my wife shared something with me.   Former NBC Today Show host Ann Curry has started a website/twitter feed:  Inspired to Act: #26 Acts of Kindness:  

Curry's message is asking others to join her in committing to 26 random acts of kindness to honor the Newtown children and adults who were killed.  I read down the page, which provides some opportunity to respond and hundreds of people have indicated what they have done, little things and big things, to memorialize the victims and to move forward.   To be honest, reading these "tweets" humbled me.  While I have been focusing on the hopeless sadness of the situation, thousands of others have been doing good things, big and little.   There are notes of Christmas miracles, Jewish mitzvahs, generous donations, letters of apology, and thank you notes to first responders.

It is right to be sad and angry over such "random" violence.  It is not likely that 26 acts of kindness by many will stop the next crazy killing spree.  Our legislators, scientists, the education system, and the health system will have to struggle with this epidemic for a long time.   In the meantime, doing something positive and kind has the potential to communicate what is healthy and hopeful during this most difficult period.  So, I am starting my holiday list late this year.  This year, my holiday to do list focuses on 26 random acts .I want to respond to Ann Curry's little message.  My response won't change the world, it won't change the grief of the sorrowful survivors in Newtown, and it certainly won't change the likelihood that there will be another random killing in the future.  My reason for doing it is selfish.  It will change me, lift my spirits, and might help someone that I work with or someone in my family or someone who needs a little lift.

I hope that this holiday that everyone in the Institute community and your families, have a safe, healthy, happy and wonderful break.  I hope that every one of our students knows that we care about them and their success and that we look forward to seeing them in January.  I hope that every faculty member and staff member at the IHP knows that what we do changes the face and the future of health care-one student at a time.   I also invite everyone to read the "Inspired to Act" site and then join in with 26 big or little random acts.  Do it for yourself.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday! Peace.

PS-Feel free to list some of your random acts on the blog response below!  Think of the effect!  26 random acts x 1200 students+ (200 faculty and staff) =36,400.  That's big!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cutting Edge Interprofessional Education

PT, Nursing, and CSD  students share lunch and patient reflection time after a "shift" on the MGH  Interprofessional Dedicated Education Unit

Last Friday I had the opportunity to spend time with several students, clinical faculty members, and preceptors at the Mass General on Ellison 8.  There, each week, an interprofessional group (Nursing, DPT, CSD) students spend time together caring for patients, learning about the work of each of our disciplines, experiencing day long observation of the top notch professional acute care at the MGH, and then spending an hour together reflecting on what the significant learnings were that occurred on that day.

I was able to see a bit of the action that occurred on the floor,but spent more time in the debriefing session at the end of the day.   One of the first observations that I made was that it was difficult to tell what discipline students represented.  They were so sophisticated about the patients that they presented that each one knew the clinical, social, functional, and practical concerns for each patient.   The speech-language pathology students discussed the patient's physical concerns, the physical therapy students were able to talk a lot about communication and swallowing, and the nursing students were remarkably knowledgable about the patient's functional and social situations.   Each student was highly engaged in the discussion and expressed great concern about the needs of the patients from a health perspective, but also from the perspective of future needs, affordabilty of care, and family needs.  

Having had the chance to observe this highly innovative educational pilot was a gift for me.  We are so fortunate to be in a setting where these types of activities are embraced and where our Mass General colleagues are so willing to go the extra mile to make this experience successful and outcomes driven.  We need to continue to find opportunities to develop patient centric teaching and learning situations for all our students!   These opportunities will be transformative in the future of health care!