I’ve read a lot about great men and women who changed the world. Humble servants, visionary leaders, and dedicated crusaders have left their mark, forging unfathomable evolutions of society. I look back at moments that still resonate loudly in the hearts and minds of people from all walks of life. Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Churchill’s “This was their finest hour,” and Dr. King’s “I have a dream.” These words of inspiration, grounded on unpopular conviction, changed societies trajectory and history.
As an emergency doctor, I look for patterns. Disease processes in the body tend to have typical presentations. I look for clues or symptoms in order to aid in my diagnosis or exclusion. I’ve noticed that there are patterns in our societies that transcend culture, ethnic or religious barriers. In times of great need or turmoil, there is always someone who emerges to champion the cause. Churchill, an unsuccessful politician with military failures rallied Great Britain to victory against the “unstoppable” Third Reich. Dr. King, An African American pastor, opened the door of racial equality through an unorthodox nonviolent philosophy. Abraham Lincoln, a failed politician who suffered from clinical depression, united a broken country while ending a barbaric social injustice.
Greatness is forged in the trenches of need and injustice. Obstacles become opportunities of change and evolution. The healthcare landscape has recently faced multiple obstacles. Through federal mandates and changes in access to care, we have been asked to do more with less. Increased patient volumes combined with a decreased number of providers have stressed our nation’s healthcare to new limits.
How is the obstacle an opportunity? It’s a wake up call for providers to focus less on the system and more on what matters most. We focus on our patient.
You may say “Jeff, I’m the voice of one……..What can I do to make a difference? I’m an intern, paramedic, or RN in a small ED in Topeka or Toledo…….no one will listen. “ I say do what’s right, focus on the patient centrally and others will soon follow, changing your department, region, then the landscape of healthcare. Remember, David was the smallest of the small and he slew Goliath. Winston Churchill had a lisp, but was able to defeat Germany by the power of his words. Martin Luther King, a minority in a hostile environment was able to champion the fight for equality and change the world. The power is not in the system, but in the cause. Be a champion for your patient and let’s change healthcare.