We Can Be a “Band of Brothers and Sisters”

Premier Pulse     May 2019

Belcastro_350x350Recently, while rounding at Miami Valley Hospital South with a hospitalist, I met a man named Jim Martin. His military name is “Pee Wee” Martin. He is a 98-year-old veteran of World War II and the last survivor of the original Band of Brothers.    

As a chief medical officer, my hope and mission are that we (physicians) can reclaim and redefine health care in how we relate to our patients. I have written on patient experience, AIDET tools, and most recently started presentations on the art and science of compassion. I have been rounding with physicians and starting to work on gathering physicians in small groups. While I have no illusions that burnout and frustration can be solved single-handedly, this will not stop me from caring about you and doing my small part.   

After listening to Mr. Martin’s stories and pondering the amazing brotherhood that allowed these men to accomplish extraordinary military feats despite the worst possible conditions, I thought of the brotherhood/sisterhood shared by physicians and the current health care conditions that make the practice of medicine so incredibly difficult. He spoke of the brutal weather, the loss of friends, and those moments of wanting to quit. While the analogy might not entirely fit, physicians share common challenges and rigorous training that create bonds. I was encouraged and believe that if we focus on what we can control and learn to remain resilient through the things we cannot control, we can reclaim and redefine the art of healing through relationships with one another and with our patients.     

How did my personal journey on patient experience lead to meeting Jim Martin? The “A” of AIDET is “acknowledge,” which became a natural part of every patient interaction. I overheard Mr. Martin’s daughter mention the VA, and I knew he was 98 years old. Without hesitation, I asked him if he was a World War II veteran. He humbly said he was in Normandy. I looked at his daughter and she stated he was 101st Airborne. I asked him if he was part of the “Band of Brothers.” He said, “Yes, the last survivor.” I have had numerous meaningful encounters, but this was the most memorable, as my father also served in World War II. When Jim “Pee Wee” Martin was 93 years old, he performed a tandem jump over Normandy that can you can watch on YouTube.

After 30 years in the NICU, dealing with long periods of in-house call and very emotional situations, I believe I have much to offer. Please feel free to contact me if you would like me to accompany you on rounds, if you are interested in this work, or want some mentoring/coaching on resiliency.

Back to the May 2019 issue of Premier Pulse