I recently had the honor of attending a Quint Studer three-day seminar here in Chicago entitled, "What's Right in Healthcare". I had been asked to come to the meeting on the second day for the induction of four deserving "Fire Starters" into the Quint Studer Hall of Fame. That happened to me about three years ago when Quint bestowed that honor on me and I have been proud ever since of being in his Hall of Fame. Now I must admit, however, that I am invited to attend a lot of meetings in all parts of the country but seldom go only because the subject matter is usually about something I have only a passing interest in. But the Studer Group conferences are a little bit different and that's because they usually gear their meetings around the foremost No. 1 priority in healthcare which is taking care of patients.I think all of us in healthcare realize that is what this business of healthcare is about now and evermore. There is no greater calling than being willing to help others and that is why most of us came into healthcare. But of course from time to time many of us succumb to the relentless demands, changes, and pressures of our world and become discouraged or disillusioned. This may be true of other industries, but in healthcare, burnout is constantly lurking for those of us who really care. How do we know when we’ve been caught up in the web of combat fatigue? We get tired easily, we wonder why we are where we are, and we ask ourselves, "Why am I doing this?”
Even if you aren’t burned out or stressed out it's a good question to ask yourself from time to time. That way you can measure why you are doing what you are and the progress you are making with your career, or better yet, what difference you are making in the lives of patients. It takes a little time but in the end it can recharge your batteries when you rededicate yourself to your profession and the goals you have set for yourself.
I was profoundly moved by one speaker at the Studer meeting by the name of Rich Bluni. He is a member of the Studer Group staff who does a lot speaking around the country discussing healthcare and is the author of the "Inspired Nurse". According to a brief piece in the conference program Rich believes, “The passion of healthcare workers have for their profession is rivaled only by the tremendous difference that they make in the lives of the people they touch. It is through the minds and hands of these special human beings that suffering is alleviated, comfort is brought and human experience is exemplified". In the course of his talk at the meeting Rich told a story and it’s a story that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It involved a little girl six years old and it also involved her monster parents.
Nurse Bluni told the audience that he had been going through a period of his life whereby he was asking himself why he was doing what he was doing. That thought kept surfacing over and over and then one day as he entered the hospital to begin his duties he was called to the emergency room where he could hear shouting and screaming and cursing and then watched a man and women being removed by the police in handcuffs. Then he saw a young girl laying on a gurney, her face bloodied with bruises on her legs along with cigarette burns on her body as well. The staff and Rich did everything they could to keep her alive. It was definitely touch and go and not very promising. She had been badly beaten by her parents and the "why" will make you cringe. She had apparently eaten some chicken nuggets her father had stashed away in the refrigerator as a treat for himself at a later time. As a result, here was a young 6-year-old on a gurney all by herself on the verge of dying. After being stabilized she was placed in intensive care but there was little hope she would survive.
The next morning showed no improvement for the little girl. She was all alone except for the members of the IC staff and then Mr. Bluni was advised that one of the child's grandmothers was out in the waiting area and that gave Mr. Bluni hope that someone cared for the child. He rushed into the waiting room and explained to the grandmother how dire the situation was for her granddaughter. The woman listened and then told Mr. Bluni that what she was there for was her pay check her daughter had in her purse that she left at the hospital when she was arrested. Mr. Bluni found her remarks incredulous and tried to explain the situation again but she simply asked Mr. Bluni to get her check out of her daughter's purse. He did and brought it to her and once again tried to explain how critical her granddaughter was. The grandmother simply left without any comment.
Later in intensive care Mr. Bluni told us he looked at the young girl who was now brain dead and with gentle hands placed his hands around her tiny head and started to sing "Somewhere over the Rainbow". While he was doing so other staff members placed their hands on her body as well and they sang along with him. A short time later the little girl's heart stopped beating. In his talk that day Mr. Bluni told his audience that after the incident with the little girl he then understood why he was where he was and that his destiny would be to take care of others for the rest of his life. In short, without her knowledge that little girl had given new life and dedication to another human being by the horrific tragedy she had endured.
Out of darkness often comes good.