i've got the cure for you

What was the formula again?
December 14, 2010, 8:19 pm
Filed under: i don't know where to put this

The training so far that we’ve received has been, as what all my other fellow navigators are saying, amazing. We have different teams on both side, from the U of T Public Health and ELLICSR, teaching and supporting us in so many ways. But there is one thing that I find sometimes we, including myself, rely on so much that it in itself becomes a trap. Formulas.

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There always seems to be a formula for everything. I’m not saying that all formulas should be abolished because I recognize there is need for them to help take the right approach. What I’m trying to get at is the fact that, we are bombarded with these books and books of formulas but it becomes problematic when we fully depend on them. In our training, we are given various formulas to learn how to interact with the people we will meet in difficult settings. In school, formulas to do well to get the grades you want. In life, just go to chapters and look at the vast amount of self-help books.

Atul Gawande’s new book “The Checklist Manifesto” talks about the human fallibility and how a simple checklist implemented not only in the operating room but in various health care settings have dramatically improved mortality rates. It sounds simple but no one wanted to use it. He brings in the example of construction buildings, the complexity of it, and the unimaginable coordination needed during all of it. How? Checklists. But there are teams that come together to communicate the problems and consult each other during mishaps especially drastic ones. It’s not unnatural when things go astray and that formula or checklist that you had doesn’t cover it at all.

What am I really trying to say? When we begin to follow strictly to these formulas/checklists especially when communicating with, such as patients, it is very apparent. With that, you also start losing that personal connection with the person you are talking to. Like others have emphasized, they are guidelines, not simply the “If/then” command. We know that, but we often forget. I just want to remind others, but most importantly myself, there aren’t formulas to everything and that’s part of the beauty and spontaneity of life.

(This was also a post I made for the Youth4Health website which you can check out here.)

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