From time to time, we write something that really strikes a chord. Here are the all-time, top-ten, most shared articles and resources from Hearts in Healthcare. It’s a treasure trove – please share widely.
“We just don’t have time to care!” is the heartfelt protest of health workers in every country we visit. This is the reality of modern healthcare – always being asked to do more with less, in a frantic and stress-filled workplace. Health professionals going home exhausted, not with the satisfaction of a job well done but fretting about care too hurried, and patients neglected.
Yet, amidst the storm, some remarkable health professionals create a circle of calm. They go about their work in an unhurried way, finding time to greet their patients, put them at ease, listening deeply and offering kindness and compassion. They don’t neglect their clinical tasks, indeed they seem to get the work done with quiet efficiency. These inspiring workers go home with satisfaction and joy in their hearts. How is that possible?
2/ Doctors don’t cry
Today I broke the rules. I held my patient’s hand and I cried with her.
That’s completely ‘unprofessional’ behaviour.
In fact it’s so taboo for doctors to show emotions in front of their patients that the image doesn’t even exist in the commercial photo banks. I couldn’t find a single stock image to illustrate this article. The photo I used is not of a doctor.
Why did I cry?
Is a focus on compassion is costing us attention to other, more important technical aspects of care?
“Rather than emphasising compassion, many medical educators would say that their priority is to ensure that professionals have sound medical knowledge. After all, when it comes to heart surgery, most of us are less concerned about whether a doctor is kind and more worried about whether they know what they are doing and have great outcomes statistics. In a crowded medical school curriculum, ensuring that doctors learn the core clinical skills comes first.”
Dr Robin Youngson offers advice to his younger self, after more than thirty years in medicine
When beginning my medical career, I guess there were three main things I wanted: To provide the best possible care to individual patients; to make a difference in the world beyond caring for my own patients; and to have a happy and satisfying career. Now, at sixty-two, I can look back at a varied career and ask myself, did I achieve those goals? Are there things I know now, that I wish I had known when I was starting out?
“Five years since qualification, I have learned that if I truly felt the sadness and enormity of the things that passed through my hands, I would drown. It needs to be ok to talk about that.” – So writes Dr Aoife Abbey, an intensive care medicine trainee, courageously sharing her feelings in a blog for the British Medical Association (BMA). She tells a shocking story about her patient who died suddenly at induction of anaesthesia.
In a heartfelt plea she adds, “People will tell you that empathy is the key to being a good doctor. That the ability to really see not just a patient, but a person and their narrative is the key to compassionate care. They’re not wrong of course, but what we don’t seem to want to tell each other is how to turn that tap off.”
On the same day, an anesthesiologist from Canada posted on the Hearts in Healthcare website that healthcare needs, “Physicians brave enough to be human, authentic and real.”
How do we reconcile these views?
Free infographic to share with your colleagues, complete with all the scientific references.
You can’t teach compassion but you can teach what compassionate practitioners do.
Many discoveries happen by accident. A chance meeting between two physician leaders led to a unified framework for healing consultations.
At Hearts in Healthcare we want to recruit a thousand speakers and presenters spreading the word about compassionate healthcare, all around the world.
To help you in that task, co-founder Robin Youngson is giving away his entire slide collection for you to use in your own presentation! Add your own title and logo, choose slides from the huge collection, feature your own stories and images, and inspire the audience with your own knowledge, insight and compassion.
As a passionate advocate for compassionate, human-centered healthcare, Robin Youngson has been campaigning internationally for more than ten years.
He says, “For most of that time I was much less effective than I could have been. I made many mistakes. The insights I now share were won slowly and painfully. As a budding compassion champion, I hope you might avoid some of the mistakes I made.”
The founders of Hearts in Healthcare have campaigned for a decade to bring more humanity and compassion into the healthcare system. You would think this was a no-brainer: health professionals begin their career with high ideals of compassionate caring. Science proves that patients treated in this way get much better outcomes at substantially lower cost; moreover compassionate care satisfies patients and give meaning and joy to the work of health professionals. It’s truly a win-win-win for patients, providers and funders.
So why doesn’t the practice of compassionate, whole-person care spread like wildfire across the healthcare system? After a decade of efforts, we have to conclude that the existing healthcare system is fundamentally incompatible with compassion, healing and wellbeing.