Each Shot of Satisfaction is related to one of the seven steps back from burnout in the process of REFLECT. My hope is that, by sharing with you how I apply these steps in my daily life, it will help you on your journey to a fulfilling life of caregiving.
Originally published November 25th, 2009 – This Shot of Satisfaction relates to Step 4 -LOOK at your position within the transaction of care, and ask yourself if you are the cause of something better or the effect of another’s situation. Am I reacting or am I responding?
Reframe your role (in the patient encounter, or any interpersonal encounter), and your position in regards to your goal: to understand that the obstacles to your satisfaction aren’t outside you, but within you. Make the inner transformation and shift your position in your personal, internal quantum space from a negative to a positive one.
Diamonds, Diamonds, Everywhere…
“I find that the more willing I am to be grateful for the small things in life, the bigger stuff just seems to show up from unexpected sources, and I am constantly looking forward to each day with all the surprises that keep coming my way!”
-Louise L. Hay
Yesterday, I told a patient (who came to the hospital thinking he had a bladder infection) that his CT scan showed he had bladder cancer. He said, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!”
Unfortunately, there is never a good time to deliver bad news, especially of this magnitude. The reason it’s difficult is because, in these moments, we cannot ignore a profound truth: We care about our patients.
Last week, I shared with you a story about a man who went on a journey to search for diamonds. Along the way, he discovered that his natural gifts were the real diamonds – and they were worth more than any precious gem. In the emergency department, we often get so caught up in the details of searching for the physical diagnosis that we miss the essence of what we do: provide care. Diagnosing the problem is only the first part of the journey. The actions we take after we deliver the harsh news are where our diamonds can be found.
These challenging moments are our opportunities to share our natural gifts, to provide true care, and to be extraordinary. We have a chance to feel our patient’s pain as though it were our own. We can let them know that their diagnosis affects us as well. It’s not just business as usual. We are there to help shoulder their burden. We make it our responsibility to stay in that uncomfortable place with our patients until they feel our care and understand that our purpose is to lay down our own troubles and do whatever it takes to make things better for them.
These unique human interactions between care giver and patient, this uncomfortable place where we share genuine, intimate contact, where we catch a glimpse of each other’s humanity, are the precious gems of the work we do. As we run around like crazy people this week, tending to all the details and distractions of Thanksgiving, take a moment to hear the words of my patient, “But Doc, it’s Thanksgiving!” Take a moment to see past the distractions and illusions of our fast-paced world, to feel another’s pain, and to look for the things in your daily life that you are truly grateful for.
Courtney summed it up for us this way:
“I think the Emergency Room is a great place to work because going to work and witnessing the pain and struggle in others’ lives serves as a daily reminder to be very grateful for the blessings in our own lives. Everyone has trials in their life, and it is so easy to become so focused on the challenges that we forget to really evaluate all the good we have… A big reminder for me is when I go to Children’s Hospital. I take the kids there for various appointments, and EVERY TIME, walking through the hospital I see children in wheelchairs, and children that cannot talk or run. It strikes me as my own children skip happily at my side how blessed I am that my children are healthy. So, I am grateful that I am reminded every time I go to work to be grateful for the SIMPLE blessings in life.”
Remember the immortal words of John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Happy Days of Thanks!