Hi everyone. I so love writing this end of year note. I like to slip in something comical about my kid (this week he wore pants - not shorts! - a first since April 2020!!), how thankful I am for the privilege of doing this work with the Coalition gang and all of you (so, so, so thankful).
I am really excited by our new strategic plan. The process helped us put words to things we’d been thinking about for a long while, about equity, of course, but also about serious illness. Because we ARE still a serious illness coalition. AND we are going to pay more attention to the things that are important to folks with serious illness (which also happen to be things that are important to people who are racially, culturally, socially, and economically marginalized), but that have the potential to touch everyone. So we stop tripping over thinking that good communication, and feeling heard, safe and cared for is just something for the seriously ill. Or thinking that only clinicians serving the dying must have these skills.
A few weeks ago I read this paper, actually by my old grad school friend, Michaela Kerrissey, and her colleagues (hi Michaela!). I had to share it with you all, because it touched a nerve. The team explored interactions between clinical team members from emergency departments (during Covid no less) using questions that were strikingly similar to those we posed in our public opinion research from last year: feeling safe to speak up, feeling heard and understood. Michaela’s research found that feeling heard independently lowers risk of burnout alongside feeling safe to speak up (also known as psychological safety).
This, of course, makes sense. We know that clinicians often feel like a cog in the health system themselves, just as patients often feel like ‘a number.’ It’s two sides of the same coin, so it’s not surprising that our wants are so similar. We’re all just people who need their humanity recognized, especially in moments of stress and vulnerability - like when you’re seriously ill, or caring for people in an ED during Covid, or just trying to get care when you’re part of a marginalized community.
Which is a long way of saying: we’re all in this together. None of us are getting out of here alive. Let us take care of each other. Bring humanity to the systems that surround us and to ourselves and to our teams. Happy Holidays all you humans. You’re the best.