Stories from the Stethoscope: December 2021

Read the December 2021 edition of Dr. Powell’s monthly column: Stories from the Stethoscope.

As the year comes to a close, it provides a great opportunity to reflect upon the past and prepare for the future. None of us are sure how the pandemic will continue to affect us personally and professionally. The diminished access to some of our favorite activities, hobbies, and people can bring ongoing frustration and boredom. I am reminded of a podcast I recently listened to by Angela Duckworth. She is a psychologist, author, and podcast host. She is well-known for her New York Times bestseller “Grit.” During the podcast, she discussed nuance vs novelty. Novelty would be described as a new event or activity.  Nuance would be described as a subtle change in an existing project, habit, or activity.

Organizations and people can create exponential growth and satisfaction by focusing on nuance and not longing for novelty. We can increase our skills and enjoy the tasks we do on a personal and professional level if we put a spin on the activities we perform on a regular basis. We can tweak our thought process and create a deeper appreciation of the work and the value it provides to ourselves and others. How do we do this?

At work, I often play little games in my head. If it is a day of seeing patients, I will try to throw in dad jokes and count how many laughs I did or didn’t receive.  It allows me to actively create a deeper connection with patients. For example, telling many of my patients lately that they have COVID is not fun. Connecting with them so that they believe you and the advice you are providing them is meaningful. If I can connect with the caregivers and patients I talk with; I believe my advice will have more impact on them over the next few days. I also find documenting in our medical records to be boring and one of the most painful tasks I do every day. Lately, I have been trying to create templates that not only improve my documentation but help the other providers as well. It has created a desire to be more proficient with these tasks and increase my compliance. 

Perhaps we should begin to look at the tasks, interactions, and assignments of our day. Change the lens through which you view your day. Let’s explore how can we tweak our workflow to not only get through these tasks but to be better at completing them. We can share our ideas via social media and directly with the colleagues we work with.  Your input can not only benefit you but everyone around you. Don’t limit this to work. Perhaps we apply this to exercise, diet, and any domestic activity. 

In a few more days we will start another year of uncertainty but also one of opportunity. We will continue to strive to improve as an organization and individually. We will make mistakes and at times struggle as we embrace our vulnerability. It will be a time for us to build on the vision we have created. I look forward to continuing this journey with you. Thank you for all your support and dedication to the people we serve. I am proud to call LISH my home.

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