What I learnt this week: Still learning, Still training, Still experiencing #WILTW

This is the 50th #WILTW

A year ago I became a consultant and I wrote a blog, the forerunner of #WILTW, entitled: “13 years of training and tomorrow it begins again“.

The post started:

The art of medicine was to be properly learned only from its practice and its exercise.
Thomas Sydenham

The year has gone incredible quickly, too fast in fact. The consultant I was going to be, the mistakes I wouldn’t make, the things I would definitely achieve have not come to pass. The over zealous interpretation of what you can change and deliver, I hope, is not unique to me but the desire to claw back time and revise strategies and approaches very real. One thing that has caught me a little by surprise is the extent to which non-technical clinical skills are so poorly utilised in healthcare and how challenging it is to deliver training in them. These are the clinical skills of communication, compassion and emotional intelligence. I am by no means perfect in any of these areas, far from it in fact, but I am overtly aware that the large majority of the issues that I come across as a consultant are as a result of health care professional’s sub-optimal understanding and utilisation of them. Last week’s post on listening and learning an example.

This was very much brought home to me during this week’s RCPCH ‘spring’ meeting. A national conference for Paediatricians, and increasingly Children’s nurses, to discuss research, health policy and current practice. It can be a mixed bag – certainly this year there was a greater acknowledgement of quality improvement and patient collaboration which was good to see. At the conference, Kath Evans, the NHS England lead for patient experience shared this video:

While I have fortunately not been directly involved in a similar case the video certainly makes you think about your own practices. What I am deliberating at the moment is how to ensure Jayme-Leigh’s experience does not happen in my own hospital, or anyone else’s for that matter. Sharing the video widely is one way of doing this but I am forced to reflect on my own medical training and am shocked to be unable to recall more than one lecture on patient experience. I suppose, given the nature of being a medical student, this doesn’t mean it didn’t happen but certainly the emphasis was on detecting disease not on the patients themselves.

The frantic pace of health care means it is very easy to let things drift. Have I really delivered anything in regard to improving patient experience in the last year? I am ashamed to say probably not but this video has given me new impetus to find ways of role-modelling, teaching and improving behaviours which will benefit the children and young people who visit our department. If the art of medicine is best learnt by its practice then we must find ways of making this learning apparent to health care professionals. I still have much to learn in this regard.

What did you learn this week? #WILTW

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