Why Introductions Matter

670px-Introduce-People-Step-2 The other day, I was invited to give a seminar on interprofessional teamwork to a group of residents at a prestigious university medical center. . The group to whom I talked was made up of professors and residents in opthalmology. The first thing they did when they trooped into the room was introduce themselves to me. “Hello,” each said in turn, and then told me their name – professor or doctor so and so or just simply a first name. Since there were about 25 people in the room, no one really expected me to remember their names. But each and every one of them came up to me, shook my hand and told me there name. I, in turn, said hello to them and introduced myself — Hello, I said, I’m Suzanne Gordon – this in spite of the fact that they knew who I was since the seminar had been advertised to them in advance. What all of us were participating in was the creation of a ritual that did more than convey instrumental information about who we all were and what roles we played in the coming performance.

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Why Don’t People Help Each Other and The Patient?

indexI am writing this post from Heidelberg, Germany, where I have presented to a large German oncology nurses conference and at the Medical Faculty, where Cornelia Mahler and her colleagues have a bachelors degree in Interprofessional Healthcare.  Both at the conference and the Medical School seminar I gave — one which included medical students, orthoptists, and RNs, working nurses commented a persistent problem.  They raise critical concerns to physicians and are blown off.  The image I have included here, is an ideal but it is definitely not the reality, either in Germany or in North America.  Here’s what things look like all too often.images

Consider one example of the problem that a pediatric nurse at a seminar I gave on aviation safety and teamwork described.  After I had finished my presentations, this nurse raised her hand and asked how she could deal with physicians who simply refused to take her concerns about the deteriorating status of a child seriously. When Cornelia and I asked her to describe the case and role play it, she explained that she had been taking care … Continue reading

Peter Coyote’s Rainman’s Third Cure

Just had this book review posted on Beyond Chron

Peter Coyote: Sixties’ Survivor With Memories Worth Sharing

by Suzanne Gordon on May 7, 2015


Review of Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle (Counterpoint Press, Third Paperback Edition, 2015) and The Rainman’s Third Cure: An Irregular Education (Counterpoint Press, 2015)

Millions of Americas who listen to radio ads for Apple or watch public TV have heard—if not heard of—Peter Coyote. His is the smooth-as-bourbon voice selling us on the Ipad and narrating Ken Burns documentaries, like “The Dust Bowl” and “The Roosevelts.”

Many of us in his own generational cohort (Coyote is 73) still remember his on-camera roles in Hollywood films like Steven Spielberg’s  “E.T.” or European ones like “A Man in Love,” in which he shared top billing with Greta Scacchi and Jamie Lee Curtis or Roman Polanski’s Bitter Moon.

In The Bay Area, the Marin-based actor and Academy Award winning voice-over artist has a colorful history of cultural and political activism.  He was an early member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Later in the 1960s, he joined the Diggers, an “alternative community” which offered free food, … Continue reading

Not Pimping Just Yelling

indexYou can have discussions about patient safety in some of the oddest places, like the breakfast room in a hotel in Munich. My husband and I are here in this German city, en route to Heidelberg where I am speaking at a nursing conference and at the medical school, where I will talk about Team Intelligence. This morning, we were sitting next to a couple who were also eating breakfast and we began to chat with them.

Turns out he’s a surgeon and when I told him I am a healthcare journalist and researcher, well you guessed it, we started talking about my favorite subject — teamwork. He acknowledged that teamwork is critical in the Operating Room. Yes of course, we must work on teams, he said. Once the word team came up, however, the usual happened. He became just a tad bit nervous and asserted that as important as teamwork and teams “strong leadership” remains. After all, I am the one who is responsible, he argued. I am the one who will be held legally liable, I must make all the ultimate decisions. I must be the captain of the … Continue reading

Short Post on Non-Pimping by Calvin Chou

imagesI’ve gotten a lot of responses by my article on pimping in the BMJ.  As I said before, some have been very supportive.  Some have, surprisingly, defended the practice.  In my last post I mentioned the work of Calvin Chou and his colleagues at the VA.  They teach feedback to students, trainees, faculty, staff.  It is a remarkable sight to see how this iterative process — teach one, do one, coach one, review one, do one, teach one and on and on — produces effective teamwork and teaching and feedback.  When I emailed Calvin to alert him to my last blog post in which his work was mentioned, he sent the following comment to me.  I asked him if I might share it with my readers, and he said, absolutely!  So here is Calvin Chou’s comment on learning how not to pimp.

“One thing I’ve found as I use a questioning (not pimping) style with students and residents is in my first meeting with them, is that I set the expectation (and ask permission) to ask questions, to engage learners and to help assess their knowledge base and develop it. … Continue reading