Exemplifying Excellence by Embracing Opportunities to Improve Patient Care

Great acts are made up of small deeds.” Lao Tzu

In his Harvard Medical School article, Dr. Ted A James MD, MHCM notes that patients trust doctors to offer the highest quality and standards of care. But the challenges within healthcare pose a problem for doctors in living up to this expectation. Top among the challenges are heavy caseloads, administrative burdens, inefficient system, and loss of autonomy.

 Aristotle said that “Excellence is never an accident, it is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities”. Excellence is reflected in the profession when doctors make up their minds to establish best practices and hone clinical skills to benefit patients despite the challenges faced.

So, what forms could excellence take in healthcare? We all have unique gifts and talents which are our “signature strengths”. When these are incorporated in patient care, they make a world of difference. In a sense, this is going above and beyond the job description. These do not need to be lofty acts but small acts which actually go a long way.

These “signature strengths” could include humor to relieve a patient’s anxiety, helping a patient cope with a troubling diagnosis, holding a patient’s hand while they go under anesthesia, or just sitting with a patient who is contemplating his or her next step.

In fact, these acts show empathy while helping doctors connect with patients at a more human level. This then becomes an opportunity to demonstrate excellence in every patient encounter.

Empathy and genuine concern while relieving patients of suffering, goes a long way. In a nutshell, excellence is an intentional act which over time becomes a habit or a way of life and makes a difference in the lives of doctors and their patients.

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