Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Reflective Holiday Season

It's amazing to me how quickly time passes. It seems like just yesterday we planned for and enjoyed the Pope's visit to Philadelphia, Veterans Day and this weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving. We now set our sights on Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza and New Years! Yikes, 2015 is almost gone and 2016 is right around the corner. With all the hubbub around all of the holidays I think it's become increasingly crucial to focus on what's really important and not just all the trappings of this time of the year. With time passing so quickly, I absolutely believe we need to make the effort to focus on the reasons many of us have made the decision to become healthcare providers and educators. Corporate America would have us all believe the most important thing to do this time of the year is to shop 'till we drop or our fingers get tired of surfing the net. I disagree. While difficult at times, it's extremely important to direct our attention and energy towards family, friends and those patients and clients we care for on a daily basis. As I've alluded to earlier, time flies by much too quickly to take any of these relationships for granted. Before you know it, family members and friends are gone off to school, jobs, etc. and our patients and clients can fall through the cracks.  

I think this is a good time of the year to reaffirm our commitment to those closest to us. Do something special for those around you - tell them how much they mean to you. Review your office or teaching procedures to ensure you're providing/teaching the most up-to-date information, update your databases with current addresses and phone numbers and most importantly, take a few extra minutes with each patient, client or others to let them know how much you really care about them. In today's busy world we seem to have forgotten about the human touch necessary to convey our feelings and thoughts. To save time, we default to texting, focusing on the electronic health record entry while in the office or email. We're forgetting how to really communicate. As time passes we will have nothing concrete to look back upon other than a record of our texts, emails and EHR entries. So, what I am saying is let's commit ourselves to a renewal in communication and caring for those around us. Life is too short to let all those wonderful relationships we have the opportunity to be part of slip through time oh too quickly. It will take some work, but the outcome will be well worth the effort in the long run!

Wishing everyone a reflective holiday season.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veterans Day

Today marks the 240th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Here in Philadelphia, on November 10, 1775, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution establishing the Continental Marines. Since that time, Marines have distinguished themselves defending our freedoms. During my 33-year Navy career I had the privilege of serving with the Marine Corps for almost one-third of that time. Tomorrow we also recognize all of our veterans as we celebrate Veterans Day.  World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of World War I.  Originally designated Armistice Day by President Wilson, November 11 commemorates the armistice that began that day. In 1954 Congress changed the name to Veterans Day to recognize all veterans. 

While I was on active duty I paid little attention to the observance of the Navy and Marine Corps birthdays and Veterans Day other than to enjoy a nice social event and a day off. Now, as a retired Navy veteran I find myself thinking of these days a bit differently. I have been reflecting on how lucky we all are to have men and women who, everyday make sacrifices to ensure we continue to enjoy the freedoms we have. They do this while being held to the highest of standards, both professionally and morally. Their core values of honor, courage and commitment have been the moral and ethical compass that has guided them for 240 years. 

As healthcare professionals we have much in common with those who serve in our armed forces.  We too have made a commitment to devote our time and energies to serve others.  Most importantly, though, as healthcare professionals we also must be guided by an ethical and moral compass – one that emulates that of our Navy and Marine Corps – that of honor, courage and commitment. 

So, as we celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday today and take time to honor our veterans tomorrow (and I hope every day) I also hope that we reflect on how we can leverage our own commitment to always conduct ourselves with honor and have the courage to always do what’s right for our patients. 

If you see someone in uniform or if you know someone who is a veteran, please take the time to thank them for their service while I thank you for your service and commitment to helping others! Semper Fi!