When was the last time you sat back and felt proud of what you had achieved at work? When was the last time you acknowledged a colleague for handling something well - a complaint, making a patient more comfortable, teaching a student a clinical skill?
- Take the time to reflect and feel proud of what you have achieved
- Treat every incident as an opportunity to learn
- Embrace openness, it is a chance to learn what you could do better
At last week’s Patient Safety Congress in Manchester, I heard Suzette Woodward talk about her career investigating clinical incidents. She talked about the need to avoid blaming people when things go wrong, because healthcare is complex and it is rare that just one person will be responsible. She talked about using the times when things go wrong as an opportunity to learn and grow, and develop a safer healthcare environment.
“People are human, and human factors can and will always play a part in any tragedy”
I’ve heard Suzette speak before, many times, and she’s acknowledged mistakes that she has made, and how she’s grown from them. I’ve admired her candour and her honesty, and I’ve often thought how she is the best person to lead the Sign up to Safety Campaign because she exhibits all the values it is trying to embrace – openness, honesty, transparency, a drive to do better, a drive to do the best, while acknowledging that are people are human, and human factors can and will always play a part in any tragedy.
“It is so rare to hear a senior clinician stand up and say ’I got it wrong’”
At the event, you could have heard a pin drop when Suzette was delivering the James Reason lecture, and that’s because it is so rare to hear a senior clinician stand up and say “I got it wrong”. But there is something very special about that for the audience listening to her, because they too, must know that they have got it wrong.
Over my time at Nursing Times, I’ve heard hundreds of patients, relatives and clinicians talk about when things go wrong – and more often than not, those tragedies are obscured by bureaucracy and confusion, designed to prevent people finding out the truth.
“Justice cannot heal wounds, but it can stop inflicting the scars on others”
I understood more that justice can not heal wounds, but it can stop inflicting the scars on others
Suzette showed how much hurt and pain that can cause families, who have already suffered from tragedy. Listening to her, I understood more that justice cannot heal wounds, but it can stop inflicting the scars on others.
But she ended her talk with a positivity that I wish I could bottle and send to all the people working in healthcare.
“Nurses, doctors and other clinicians make a huge difference to those they see and treat every day”
She said that clinicians and other healthcare staff have a right to feel pride about what they do and what they have achieved, and she urged the audience to embrace and celebrate that pride in their accomplishments. Because despite all the terrible things she’s heard in her career and in her current role, she still recognises that in the main, nurses, doctors and other clinicians make a huge difference to those they see and treat every day. And we don’t celebrate that enough.
I can’t bottle her passion or enthusiasm but I can carry her message to you. Take time today to celebrate what you and your colleagues do. Because you are very special, and no one tells you that enough.