The last few months have been a time of personal and professional awakening.
Waking up to the physical reality of being human. Of having to accept I am not immune to the impact of the relentless pressure of the pandemic on my Emergency Department, nor to the devastation of the HSE cyber attack. And that even if I pretend otherwise, my body knows and sooner or later illness is inevitable.
It’s also been a time of pragmatic awakening. To the reality of life as a coloured doctor in Ireland. Acknowledging the presence of a systemic discrimination that is so deeply embedded it is practically invisible to those who perpetuate it. And more importantly, adapting to what is and isn’t deliverable to patients when their care is provided for by someone of colour.
Awakening is true when accompanied by action. And actions are true, when they come from a place of love, rather than from one of fear or hate.
For me, a first step is coming back to the core practice of loving kindness (“metta”). To hold in love and understanding the pain and suffering I see in and around me. And from this place of compassion, to explore how I can best use this precious life energy to alleviate suffering and discrimination.
Any concerns I may have had about losing momentum were easily laid to rest this week. The ED registrars leading on different projects are moving forward with a core energy that is a privilege to nurture.
It feels like the time is right to set up a new page tracking progress more formally than these end of week blog entries. Work for the week ahead.
Closing this weekend with the personal nourishment of attending a Peaceful Hearts retreat and understanding more deeply the roots of compassion.
It’s a little over three decades since I joined medical school and I find myself starting a new journey – exploring deep compassion in clinical practice.
I will be doing so through a Masters program “Human Factors in Patient Safety” offered by the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland from this September. A little nervous, and very excited.
“Human factors” can mean different things to different people. For me, it is about exploring how compassion influences the interdependence between human beings and clinical systems. Anyone who has experienced genuine compassion knows the effect it can have on clinical outcomes – how might it be possible to reproduce this at a “system” level ? And if we did, what kind of effect might it have ? In short – could there be #AnotherWay to how we deliver care ?
I hope to share what I discover over the coming months through this blog …