I apologize for letting three weeks elapse since my last blog post. I offer no excuses and hope that anyone who sees me as a paragon of organizational efficiency will recognize that I too live on the brink of chaos. After co-facilitating a wonderful retreat June 1-3 with a group of physicians, administrators, and Board members determined to preserve their independence in a rapidly consolidating Northeastern state, I covered surgery in a rural New England practice, where I learned that the differential diagnosis of a 12-year old girl with abdominal pain needs to include sexual abuse. I stand in admiration of the sensitive way the gynecologist on-call interviewed her, obtained the necessary tests, and involved social services, so that she could feel safe. At the same time, my two-month old laptop failed, and two on-site service visits were unable to restore its function, forcing me to send it back to Dell (more on that later).
The next week, I flew to St. Louis to mentor a group of physicians hired to counsel their colleagues on more efficient utilization. We focused on using persuasion, influence, and active listening to compensate for their perceived lack of authority. They were good sports during the role-playing, where we shared the hot-seat, showcasing an angry physician’s response to what he perceived as meddling in his patients’ care. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a hand-written note from the program director complimenting me on the energy that I brought to my presentation because, due to weather and mechanical problems, my flights were delayed over 14 hours. I did not arrive in my St. Louis hotel room until 5:30 AM the morning of my presentation.
Two days later, I flew to Indianapolis to help a medical group set up a physician and spouse mentoring program. The two highlights were dinner the night before with a group of mentors and mentees discussing what went well and what needed improvement and the eight hours that I spent the following day with the two co-chairs of the mentoring task force structuring the new program. I felt blessed to work with two physicians who cared enough to organize a process that makes new recruits and their spouses feel welcome. They embody the word “champion” and make me proud to be a practicing physician.
By now, you may be wondering why I titled this post, “Collaborative Resynapsing.” Not having my laptop, plus the travel delays, have forced me to rethink my routines and accept the piling up of tasks that previously, I prided myself on finishing within the next 48 hours. In Collaborative Resilience, the authors of Make Yourself Unforgettable defined resilience as the:
- ability to recover from and adapt successfully to adversity, problems, and setbacks
- power to reinvent oneself as circumstances change
Having recently read in a healthcare newsletter that learning new skills has a protective effect on brain function, I envision my newly formed pathways bypassing my existing neurofibrillary tangles. It truly gives me hope.
When I talk with my 86 year-old mother weekly, I need to be careful what I share with her, lest she tell me again. “Your character is already fine. You don’t need any more character-building experiences.” Never having been a mother, I can only imagine that she wants for me to have a life of health and happiness. Yet, I think of these minor skirmishes as gifts, much like the late Senator Paul Tsongas, as he described in his book Heading Home about his battle with lymphoma:
Now the matter of belief is central to me and gives me a truer sense of direction. These changes are a precious gift. My illness gave them to me. I treasure them.
What do you think:
- Can unsettling events work to our benefit as well as detriment
- Do you believe that life can happen for us at the same that it happens to us
- What level of energy do people radiate who respond to such events with a sense of perspective and humor
As always, I welcome your input to improve healthcare collaboration.
Kenneth H. Cohn
© 2012, all rights reserved
I have not received any compensation for writing this content. I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein.