Written by Dr. Rob McDermid, Site Medical Director, Surrey Memorial Hospital and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre

Dr. Rob McDermid shares the story behind his six word story: "I continue to ask for a commitment from staff to think creatively about how we can make the necessary changes, and to be courageous in voicing suggestions."

My six word story is “putting ‘care’ back into health care.” When I first took on the role of site medical director, I shared my thoughts on what that means to me:

In an era where we use the term "care" so ubiquitously, we run the risk of forgetting what the term means. We have care plans, care maps and care pathways. We aim for patient-centred and family-centred care. However, care is not a synonym for medical therapy – it is the foundation.

My duty is to ensure that our patients are truly cared for during their journey through illness. This involves more than meeting their medical needs; rather, we must deliver individualized care that attends to their psychological, emotional and spiritual needs as well. Often, these components of care are as important in determining outcome as the medical therapies we provide.

My focus will always be on building a system in which every patient receives the care he or she needs in sustainable, innovative, safe and fiscally responsible ways. I recognize that we are all fallible, and that errors will inevitably occur: thus, I believe our duty is not only to minimize errors, but also to ensure that such errors are identified early, owned, learned from, and made institutionally transformative. This involves substantial and ongoing system-level change.

I continue to ask for a commitment from staff to think creatively about how we can make the necessary changes, and to be courageous in voicing suggestions. While the roles and services that the hospital will provide will be determined by senior leadership, it is the frontline health care workers who will have the knowledge necessary to realize this vision. We need your input if we are to be successful.

I ask for a commitment from the physicians to work together, breaking down artificial silos. We face challenges together, with an openness to others' perspectives and transparency of purpose. We must assist each other, treat one another with respect, and trust that, in times of crisis, we have each other's backs.

Trust often takes time to develop. Compassion permits trust to develop at the pace that is required in modern medicine. Our challenge will be to create the mental space necessary to deliver truly compassionate, holistic care to our patients. This will involve careful consideration of the situations in which our patients find themselves, thoughtful assessment of the potential scenarios that consequently face them, and having the courage to ask the necessary but difficult questions in gentle, open and honest ways. In this way, we will be able to guide patients and their families on the path forward in a process of shared-decision making.

We must be compassionate with each other, and not forget that we are dealing with people facing adversity, rather than problems to be overcome.

In reviewing the legislation referring to our vocation, we are called "health professionals," an expression that notably omits the word "care." It is time for us to put the "care" back into our health care system.

What's your six word story? Share it at stories@fraserhealth.ca or leave a comment below. Browse all the six word stories here.

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