The Departments Of Student Activities and Public Health provided 9 scholarships for TUSDM students to attend the annual Schweitzer Leadership Conference on November 5, 2016.
The Schweitzer Leadership Conference is an incredible opportunity for our students (D18s Andrew Lum, Robert Geary, Kimberly Meyers, Oliver Giron, and Mijung Myung; D19s Jacqueline Liu and Melody Chou; and D20s Monica Cheng and Amina Mekic) to share their interest in building healthier communities with other emerging professionals and established professionals in the fields of public health and public policy and learn from leaders who are shaping the way we think, talk, and act when it comes to health equity, health care, social change, and public policy.
Jacqueline Liu, who has attended the Schweitzer Conference two years in a row, shares with us what she took home from this year’s event:
“Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Conference. What struck a chord with me the most was the Plenary Address—Listening for What Matters: Avoiding Contextual Errors in Health Care. Dr. Weiner conducted a study in which he found that health care providers only listen to a patient for an average of 23 seconds before interrupting them. He explained that one could collect enough information to make a diagnosis and treatment plan that would be considered standard of care, but could have missed a contextual factor. This was astonishing to me—especially after having taken IDP and OHP classes, which stress how crucial it is to obtain a complete and accurate health history of a patient.
Sometimes, as health care providers we are too focused on the biomedical sciences portion of the health history instead of actively listening to contextual indicators that a patient is trying to convey. This can lead to a gap in care—a contextual error in the prescribed treatment plan. The idea of contextual errors made me reflect on my current standing as a second year at TUSDM.
I have found myself in the position of beginning to make the transition from being in preclin to working with human patients in clinic. I’ve observed first how difficult it is to navigate Axium while simultaneously trying to have a conversation with a patient. During this part of the exam the main focus is getting all the information checked off on the screen, but it should also be to be engaged in conversation with the patient. Thus, finding a balance is key to patient intake.
The health history portion of an appointment is fundamental in developing both a diagnosis and treatment plan. However, after listening to Dr. Weiner I see how it’s also critical to not just obtain all of the biomedical history, but to also actively listen for any vital contextual indicators. We must always be conscientious and take into account factors like a patient’s emotional state, their attitudes toward illness, financial situation, and cultural/spiritual beliefs.
Focusing solely on biomedical history can lead to significant errors in treatment for a patient along with further exacerbations of health issues. We as dental professionals need to strive to ensure both the safety and quality of care by prescribing the best treatment for the patient—by taking into consideration other essential findings and caring for the person as a whole. This is accomplished by contextualizing care through attentive listening and staying actively engaged in conversation with the patient.”