Preventing harm and healing the healer

A healthcare system which harms the very people who have chosen healing professions is not truly a healthCARE system.

Eleven years ago I was blessed to join and lead an organization which was founded to heal the healer … and in turn by doing so … heal the patient … both / and.

The model leveraged state of the art medical care, integrated mental and physical healthcare for clinicians and patients, research and quality improvement principles, innovation, circle process, and so much more, and focused on developing authentic connection and relationships throughout the system.

The founding members of the organization had witnessed firsthand within the traditional medical model the harm being done to all who engaged, be they doctors, nurses, patients, families, staff and communities.

And being experientially informed in such a way they (the physicians, nurses, patients, staff and others) designed and continuously evolved the healing model to ensure all stakeholders within the system were whole and healthy and best positioned to give of themselves in service to others.

I think of this now because a respected peer shared the following TedTalk by Pamela Wible, MD, with me … “Why doctors kill themselves”.

A must see …

… and as I watched and listened with my mind, my heart, and my soul I was brought back to the many discussions I had had with so many doctors and nurses who (in their words) “had lost their soul for healing”, were burnt out, were leaving the profession, and worse.

On a number of occasions I wrote about these discussions and how we healthcare leaders were doing great harm to doctors and nurses with our traditional approaches and current methods … and that it was time for new ones.

See …

Heal the healer in healthcare

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Tough to focus on patient care and productivity at the same time

150703 Ritual in healing

What is the danger of not listening to frontline staff?

160218 Love and healing

Provider feedback reinforces relationship-centered care

160218 care cloud


The posts highlight the challenge before us, the desperate need to prevent harm to doctors, nurses and staff, models to mitigate the damage, and the significant need to listen to one another, stop the shame and blame, respect each viewpoint, and collaboratively and together work to find solutions.

So yes, the healthcare delivery model most definitely requires system change AND as Dr. Wible notes much harm is also being done prior (upstream) as part of the traditional medical education model and here too fixes are required.

We need bold and courageous leaders right now to step up and drive change.

And we all need to support and care for all who are struggling and need help.

Dear doctor and nurse … we need you. We need your heart and mind. We need your passion. We need you whole. And we need you healthy. We care about you and we will no longer simply mouth the words but rather we will do something about it. We Will Fix the System.

Time is short and stakeholders throughout the healthcare system are being harmed each and every day.

And when one of us is harmed … we are all harmed … literally … for only when our doctors and nurses are whole and healthy physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually will they be best positioned to help each of us achieve our optimal health and well-being.

As leaders inside and out of the healthcare system it is incumbent upon all of us to be of service to others and to make a difference.


We must identify and implement support systems such as …

Schwartz Center Rounds

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“The stresses of today’s healthcare system threaten the delivery of compassionate care. Financial pressures and administrative demands mean less time with patients and a focus on diagnosis and treatment rather than the impact an illness can have on the patient and family. Many caregivers today are anxious, frustrated and under pressure – with no structured outlet for expressing their feelings and little preparation for the difficult communication issues that are an inevitable part of patient care.

The Schwartz Center Rounds® program … offers healthcare providers a regularly scheduled time during their fast-paced work lives to openly and honestly discuss the social and emotional issues they face in caring for patients and families.”


We must evolve the medical education model as highlighted by Tyler Cooke and shared via Kevin MD …

Solving burnout requires wholesale change in medical education

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“Our goal should also be to change the environment in which medical students and residents are taught.  Residency and medical school should not be a walk in the park, but the stress that students feel should challenge and motivate them, rather than induce exhaustion and depression.”


We must promote wellness and mental health awareness among medical students

Promotion of Wellness and Mental Health Awareness Among Physicians in Training: Perspective of a National, Multispecialty Panel of Residents and Fellows

160507 acgme

“A multispecialty, national panel of trainees identified actionable goals to broaden efforts in programs and sponsoring institutions to promote resident wellness and mental health awareness. Engagement of all stakeholders within the graduate medical education community will be critical to developing a comprehensive solution to this important issue.”


We must ensure we seek to not only heal the healer but prevent harm in the first place …

Preventing Physician Burnout

160507 preventing harm

  1. Seven key steps to help you prevent provider burnout
  2. Ten-item survey designed to assist you in assessing burnout
  3. Examples of successful burnout prevention programs in a variety of practice/organization settings


We must ensure easy access to resources in order to recognize depression in others

Physician and Medical Student Depression and Suicide Prevention

160507 suicide prevention

“These short films give the medical community the tools to recognize depression or other mental health conditions in themselves and their colleagues, and encourage help-seeking behavior. Unfortunately, physicians are more than twice as likely as the general population to die by suicide.”


And we must care in our HEARTS … and in our ACTION.

So this is a call to action …

This is not about any ONE of us … this is about ALL of us.

And together we can …

… be the change that you wish to see in the world.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

 Let’s care and support one another and together create a healthCARING system for all.

Now that would truly be innovation.




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