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In last week’s issue of BWH Bulletin, Gabriele Harrison, one of seven 2001 Dennis Thomson Compassionate Care Scholars, shared an update on her compassionate care project. As a follow-up to Harrison’s story, another Scholar, Stephen Bohan, MD, vice chairman, Emergency Medicine, provides a view of compassionate care through a physician’s eyes.
The underpinnings of Bohan’s compassionate care project are rooted in a single belief that stems from a mosaic of experiences – from being raised in a medical family, to a career in the Navy and finally a profession in Emergency Medicine. Bohan’s project “Bringing Meaning to Professional Development: Do We Need a Farm Team?” explores the challenges of the nursing shortage and provides creative solutions to reverse national nursing trends. “I believe the heart of compassionate care lies within our nurses,” said Bohan.
Looking both locally and abroad, Bohan has spent his time as a Scholar investigating ways to develop a growing staff of nurses – an area that he sees as integral to the hospital’s mission and Thomson’s ideal of providing compassionate and sympathetic care. “Compassionate care means being totally open and aware of what the patient is experiencing and creating a link between you and the patient,” described Bohan. “This connection is made not only between the doctor and patient, but is guided by our nurses. In my experiences in the ED, teamwork and collaboration between clinicians working side by side results in the highest level of compassionate care.”
Discussing the dynamics between doctors and nurses is not a new subject for Bohan. In fact, it is one that monopolized dinner conversation when he was a child.With a father who is a physician, mother who is a nurse and three brothers and sisters who share the same titles, the family has spent many hours discussing compassionate care, especially in relation to the exchange between nurse and doctor when caring for a patient. Bohan’s compassionate care project shows that this is an area he continues to reflect upon.
Bohan’s project is centered on providing resources and opening avenues for individuals who may need assistance in their pursuit to become a medical professional. Through structured programs both here in Boston and in underdeveloped nations, he has explored how BWH and Partners HealthCare might be able to identify opportunities for collaboration with different educational institutions. The goal of each of these programs is to provide a funding framework and educational assistance for those individuals with the passion and commitment to start a career in nursing, who may be facing cultural, financial or other obstacles. Through work-study programs and educational exchanges and internships, Bohan has identified ways to access potential new nurses to overcome the pending nursing shortage.
Without skilled and trained nurses, it will be difficult to maintain our standard of service and our commitment to compassionate care,” he said. To help focus his research, Bohan has spent his time collecting data and feedback from a variety of staff people who share his passion for nursing and creative ambitions. Through meetings with members of Human Resources, BWH’s Diversity Office, Community Relations, and Nursing Administration, he has fine-tuned a proposal. Bohan is planning on using his honorarium in the next few months to host a luncheon of key faculty and staff to discuss the proposal further.
While exploring new opportunities, Bohan has also drawn ideas and inspiration from other organizations and past experiences. For example, he has looked closely at work-study initiatives run by the government and specifically the military. While in the Navy, Bohan gathered first hand experience with a similar system. “One of the programs I envision is based on the Navy’s Enlisted Nursing Education Program. The basic premise of the program is to identify members of the Navy who express an interest in pursuing a nursing career. The Navy then helps provide a bridge to their education through financial assistance and mentoring, and in return, the newly trained nurses give back to the Navy,” described Bohan.
As a Scholar, Bohan’s research has allowed for a great deal of self-reflection as well. In order to impact change on an organization-wide basis, we must begin with the individual, he noted. “Dennis Thomson taught us not only about compassionate care, but also about the importance of being a good role model,” said Bohan. “By working on this project I am constantly reminded of the challenge to improve what we do and who we are, because as care providers we can always get better,” he concluded.
Nominations for 2002 Dennis Thomson Compassionate Care Scholar Program are being accepted until March 31. For more information or to nominate a Scholar, call Wendy Martinez at ext. 2-6426 or visit BWHPikeNotes at (http://healthcare.partners.org/bwhintranet).