Modeling behavior to improve care

(Originally published by

Being the dad of Miss Maine USA 2014 still feels brand new, even as my daughter Samantha winds her way through the final few weeks of her reign.

In this role, Sammy had amazing opportunities to support such worthy causes as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Camp Sunshine, Maine Women’s Fund and so many others as she learned, grew and blossomed over this past year.

During this time she opted to create and follow a course which leads to the modeling industry. And this is where I rediscovered the importance of Swanson’s Caring Model to achieving optimal outcomes:

  • Knowing the patient (seeing the world through their eyes)
  • Being with the patient (and building trust)
  • Doing for the patient (what they would do for themselves)
  • Empowering the patient (teaching, coaching, explaining)
  • Maintaining belief (having faith in and esteem for the patient)

As my three children have grown I was blessed to have a schedule which allowed me to be with them and see their world through their eyes. To see the paths they chose, the challenges they faced, and the desire, passion and light that shines when they are on their path. To see them achieve and fail, learn and grow and get stronger, and to identify ways with them in which I can most be helpful as they establish their own footing.

So this past September when my daughter told my wife and I that she was scheduled to go to modeling school as she continued on a new path birthed through her hard work and her reign as Miss Maine USA, and with Kristen Swanson’s care model in mind I pondered:

  • How does a dad see this new world (of modeling) through his daughter’s eyes?
  • How does a dad be with his daughter in this new world?

And then answered: This dad goes to modeling school.

Now one might think that an almost fifty-year-old healthcare executive doesn’t belong in modeling school. And yet, there I was. And it was an amazing experience.

Sammy and I learned which colors to wear for “go-sees,” tax implications of modeling in multiple states, how to slate, and which states to focus significant energy and attention on and which not — together. I saw Sammy in her element and I got to know my daughter in a far more complete way as I was seeing her world through her eyes.

So why do I tell this story?

I often write of the importance of time, relationship, and trust at each and every healing encounter; of hearing the patient’s whole story; of both knowing the patient and being with the patient (to use Kristen Swanson’s words), and the impact of doing so:

  • Improved patient and physician engagement
  • Better adherence to co-created care plans
  • Improved patient safety
  • Improved outcomes, e.g., patient’s emotional health, symptoms, pain levels

The bottom line? Better care.

My daughter telling me about her experience in less than 10 minutes with me interrupting within the first 23 seconds would not have allowed for optimal communication and would only provide part of the full picture. It would only provide me with a tidbit of an amazing and educational story which I would then try to use to inform decision-making. Less than ideal for sure and yet that is our current healthcare model.

Sammy’s modeling career is very important to her and my role as a father necessitated me following the path above so that I am best positioned to support and honor Sammy as she continues on her journey.

As healthcare leaders we must create paths (care models) which allow clinicians to be with and know their patients if we truly want to improve care provision. Doing anything less does a disservice to our patients, families, and communities and we can clearly do better.


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