The power of positivity
This week I had three shifts on labour ward at Warwick Hospital. Each one started at 7:30am sharp with the midwife handover, and then I was assigned a midwife to help/shadow for the day. On my first shift I stayed with the same patient all day and things ended with a birth which was amazing to see. It does sound cheesy, but welcoming new life into the world is one of the highest privileges there is. And the babies are very cute!
On Saturday I received some great news – one of the block coordinators forwarded me some feedback sent into the ward by one of the families that I had worked with this week which mentioned me by name! Studying medicine is sometimes a process of continual confidence building, followed by realising how little you do know. A lot of the feedback we receive is about how to improve, which does sometimes feel like negative feedback as it concentrates naturally on what you didn’t do but should have done. This is of course all in the interest of patient safety – one must continually improve to ensure one reaches the competence expected of a doctor. It honestly makes such a difference to receive some positive feedback and after a long and tiring week makes it all feel worth it.
The positive impact this had on me reminds me of something I think I’ve spoken about before in this blog – Learning from Excellence (LFE). LFE is an initiative which was started by one of the consultants I worked with before medicine but is an idea which is gaining considerable traction. LFE focuses on inverting the traditional “Incident reporting” which operates in hospitals – i.e. where an incident occurs, and it is reported so that measures can be taken to prevent it happening again. LFE instead focuses on reporting excellent practice so that we can make sure it does happen again. Of course, both of these approaches have their place and really work in tandem – but LFE focuses on raising morale and also ensuring excellent care. Positive feedback about what went well is just as important as what didn’t go well.
Something else I think is very important is showing kindness and humanity to others in healthcare. When stressed it is so easy to get offended or start on a poor tone, but kindness and positivity has such an important impact. I believe it is key to try our best to be kind to everyone we meet – staff members and patients alike. One of the consultants at University Hospital Coventry actually gave an excellent TED talk which I would recommend – “When rudeness in teams turns deadly”, which talks about the direct consequences of being rude, or of being unkind and inversely the importance of being civil and being kind.
The lesson to take away is that kindness costs nothing apart from your time, and whether it takes the form of positive feedback or just being nice to someone - it can make all the difference. It could make someone’s week – it made mine this week!