April 3, 2018

Happy Easter/Happy Passover (Chag Pesach Kasher vesame’ach – a Kosher and Joyous Passover)/happy spring!

In this season of spring and renewal I have heard several times this repeated thought from authors and speakers (in many fields – and even talking about all of the earth): “It is no longer sufficient to talk about ‘sustainability.’ The damage is too extensive, pervasive and deep. We must now talk urgently about repair and regeneration.”

I for one have hope in humankinds’ ability to understand and adapt (“resiliency”). But what does this have to do with “simulation?”

As we think about what we do as teachers and educators, we realize that we are dealing with evermore advanced beginners (high-schoolers taking college courses, M-1’s, N-3’s, Health Professionals, etc., all at higher levels, advancing quickly on new curricula) and that means that what we teach in each level of simulation needs to be evermore advanced.

How to do this? Not exactly sure – but I think this means keeping a foot in the clinically active scene so we are aware of current needs and advances. And I think it means joining the healthcare-wide current push to understand and improve “burnout,” compassion fatigue and even the increasing incidences of depression, PTSD, and suicide rates. For several years now this will be the stated focus of concern for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (formerly the IOM). The upcoming annual issue from the Academy on the state of healthcare (copying the first issue “To Err is Human” from ’99) will be “To Care is Human.”

Several recent studies are making the counterintuitive assumption more clear: To care more, to have “more” empathy, is PROTECTIVE against compassion fatigue, rather than productive. Don’t draw away. Don’t isolate yourself. Don’t be afraid to care more for your patients, your colleagues and yourselves. Don’t be afraid to feel. We must teach “empathy” as an answer.

Just as we have talked for a long time now about fitting in a little deliberate point of communication and safety into every scenario (and even into skills training), we should begin inserting a little “empathy” point into our scenarios and skills sessions. It can be about the patient, about each other or directed toward the participants themselves, individually and/or collectively.

Please, I would much appreciate your own thoughts and comments on this. Please join me with a shared comment on this web page.