Today we leave the traditional topics of leadership, elite performance, and emotional intelligence to honor the healthcare profession on the weekend of Memorial Day.
Our family has long had the tradition of going to our local cemetery to place flowers on graves. Especially those of veterans which are marked by flags but haven’t had their graves decorated by flowers. The graveyard contains the graves of veterans from the Spanish-American war through the current conflicts. I often reflect on the birth years and how they lived their lives before the marked year of death.
Just a few years ago, I read a poem by Linda Ellis called The Dash. It refers to our life, how fleeting it is and how small acts can truly make the difference in our lives as well as those with whom we come in contact. I would quote it here but cannot due to copyright issues. You can read the poem here
However, as I considered the holiday we celebrate this weekend, I reflect on the marvelous people I work with in the healthcare field and how they personify the words of this poem.
Although my career now spans three decades and a variety of industries, only the last seven years have been intensely focused in healthcare. I remain astonished at the level of caring that you provide as physicians, physician assistants, nurses, medical assistants, and techs. It is difficult to step back enough to clearly see from the 500 foot level how you are appreciated because of the high-pressure profession you are obligated to, seeing and treating patient after patient in rapid succession. You tend to be in the thick of the woods, dashing all the time.
However, your acts are remembered, nearly photographically, by those who benefit from them. You enter lives at crucial times performing services no one else can. And yes, sometimes the efforts are to no avail and the life ends. Those that remain still remember your efforts, what you said and how you treated their loved one during their last moments.
I work with a magnificent organization whose theme is “Know me. Care for me. Ease my way.” It summarizes the best in health care and accurately personifies the personalities I am lucky enough to work with. This phrase sums up what you do every time you walk on the floor, come into the OR, room a patient, or hold a hand of someone who is afraid for what is going to happen. You do it every day, under some crushing pressures and demands.
Please take a moment this Memorial Day weekend to appreciate the work you have done and currently do to enhance the lives of your patients and their families. What you do cannot be measured in quantifiable terms. Many of you have personalities that don’t accept praise well at all. Try to put that aside this weekend and, while we honor those who have passed along, realize that your efforts many times made their lives livable, enjoyable, and honorable.