By Dr. David Mayer

First Posted on Educate the Young on 4/14/2014

David Mayer MD, Vice President of Quality and Safety for MedStar Health

David Mayer MD, Vice President of Quality and Safety for MedStar Health

Each day, we are barraged with hundreds of useless “junk” emails. Many have learned the tricks on how to make it through our spam filters and firewalls. However, amongst all that “noise” each week, one can find a few “pearls”. For me, the pearls are the emails I regularly receive from our Telluride Scholar Alumni.

Michael Slade, a second year medical student and Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camp alumni, recently emailed me to share the following reflection on how his Telluride educational experience has translated into further patient safety education at his home institution. It’s this passion and enthusiasm for both patient safety and innovations in medical education that Telluride aims to inspire, in hopes that both will go viral in healthcare environments across the country.

One of the biggest things I took away from Telluride was the power of knowledge. Because of the Telluride conference and the speakers who presented, those of us who attended were able to go back to our home institutions with a transforming set of ideas. The problem is that, quite simply, we aren’t going to be able to make healthcare safer or more effective by empowering a hundred or two hundred providers at a time. We all need to go back to our respective healthcare homes not only as technicians, but also as educators.

When I left DC, that was my goal. The medical school here allows first year students to take several elective courses. With the help of a patient safety champion in the faculty, I spent the fall organizing a 10 hour course that included lectures on many of the topics we discussed at Telluride (HREs, human factors, standardized communication, etc) and attendance at hospital PS&Q conferences. We met our goal of enrolling 15 students in the course and completed it a couple of weeks ago. The feedback from the class was almost universally positive; one student (encouragingly) wrote “These are concepts that every med student can (and should!) buy into without extensive medical knowledge. I got a great snapshot of how things work in the hospital (good + bad), w/o being overwhelmed.” A student from the course is also taking over our local IHI branch next year and applying for Telluride this summer. We’re planning on offering the elective for the foreseeable future.

 

I just wanted to thank you (and by extension, the entire staff) for investing in me and the other attendees of the Telluride experience. The road to safe, reliable healthcare is not going to be an easy one, but I’m proud to be a part of the journey.
Many of us have spent the last four months preparing for the four Patient Safety week-long Summer Camps that will begin this coming June. As in past years, through the generous support of The Doctors Company Foundation, CIR, COPIC and MedStar Health, over 130 medical students, nursing students and resident physicians have been awarded full expense scholarships to attend the camps.  Like Michael, and the many others you have heard about through ETY the past year, we hope they too will leave with a higher sense of urgency and become change agents, leading safer, higher-quality, patient care in the future. That is how we will eventually reach our tipping point.