#FEARLESS Compassion

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Friday, the 27th of May 2016, saw the launch of what was originally meant to be the first of five sessions on developing Compassion in Practice in the Emergency Department – a series we had named “Two Wings”. We had seven participants of different backgrounds, all international medical graduates, all motivated and gifted individuals. The session began with a shared lunch at restaurant close by – bringing back memories of a time when consultants would take their juniors out for a meal. We then moved on to our Post Graduate Education Centre where we watched a video and shared personal reflections on the common journey that connects us – bringing joy, relieving suffering and trusting our own music – either on a piano or in clinical practice.

I would love to have ended there but of course the journey into compassion is rarely that easy. Minutes before the session, what had been “we” (organisers) suddenly became an “I’. I won’t go into why my co-organiser got pulled – it still feels quite raw. Yet in the honesty of that rawness lies the challenge of compassion – and its strength.

Damian Roland, a respected colleague and friend, shared in a blog recently how there may not be that much for the NHS as a whole to learn from Leicester City Foxes incredible Premier League victory. For me as an individual though, it feels different. Against the odds, against conventional logic, with little money and up against the ‘big boys’ of the Premier League – a team comes out of nowhere and wins. A story to identify with – compassion in emergency care !

So my challenge for today is to uncover  #FEARLESS !

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“Are We Sure ?”

One of the best expressions I have found in my quest to develop compassion in practice is the simple question – “Are you sure ?”

This week, while setting up a teaching session for emergency floor consultants on advanced End of Life care, a colleague  challenged me quite forcefully with – “Can you please highlight what the learning objectives are … (it needs to) sit within a framework to address outcomes.”

An interesting, and all too common perspective. But are we sure it is always the right one ?

What if the learning objective is to simply be there ? To understand our colleagues’ challenges in delivering good End of Life care in an overcrowded Emergency Department and to share our own ? To acknowledge and reconcile (even if only a bit) our suffering by knowing we are not in it alone ?

Are we sure such non ‘framework’ outcomes are any less important than being updated with the latest NICE guidance and having experts teach us current best practice ? (also included in the program)

To me, it is like eating a meal. Do we need to routinely set “nutritional objectives” of how much vitamin-mineral-protein-calories to consume each time ? Or can we simply allow ourselves to connect with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in the food (or an educational event) and trust sometimes that may be enough.

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