The Power of Integrating Personal Experience and Professional Knowledge
Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Christina D. Warner for an interview series with leaders in healthcare. The article was originally published in Thrive Global on May 30, 2019. Here is part one.
“Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?”
My career began as a Speech-Language Pathologist over 15 years ago, during which time I helped clients improve their ability to interact effectively with others. However, two significant life events brought completely unexpected twists to my career.
The first was the birth of our two children, both of whom have neurodevelopmental disabilities that have required significant medical and paramedical care. I suddenly became the client in healthcare meetings, instead of the professional. I was astonished to see how differently I was treated as a mother than when I was the professional in the room. My concerns were brushed off and people no longer gave much credibility to my opinions and suggestions. This was a very eye-opening experience for me. I began to truly understand the struggles my clients had faced in the healthcare system. This firsthand experience has led to advocate for a much more proactive, client-centered, holistic approach to the delivery of services than what is currently in place within the healthcare system.
The other event that has significantly influenced my clinical practice was the loss of my mother and uncle in a motor vehicle accident in 2014, followed by the sudden death of my father in 2016. These were both life-shattering events that left me raw with pain. As I worked through my grief, I realized the extent to which interpersonal communication is impacted by our inability to sit with difficult emotions. Finding people who could truly listen, without trying to fix the situation, was a challenge. This experience brought me to reflect on the parallels between what I was experiencing and how some healthcare professionals communicate with their patients.
For the past 5 years, I have combined what I have learned from these personal experiences with my professional knowledge to provide workshops and consultative advice to the healthcare sector. When healthcare practitioners use mindful communication with both colleagues and clients, a more harmonious workplace results. This ultimately leads to lower rates of staff disengagement and burnout, increased employee retention, and an improved patient experience.
I feel very privileged to be able to be positively influencing the trajectory of development of health care services towards both a more client and practitioner-centered model, as this is an area of great passion to me.
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