Monday, August 16, 2010


Bound by paperwork, short on hands, sleep, and energy... nurses are rarely short on caring. ~Sharon Hudacek, "A Daybook for Nurses"

It struck me as I stood there in my shorts, sneakers and polo shirt that I had entered a new phase in my life. I was in pre-op as I have been many times before. Only this time, it wasn’t one of my parents lying in bed in a hospital gown. It was my best friend and companion of literally half my life. My most ardent protagonist and most formidable antagonist, the love of my life, my beautiful wife, Suzanne.

It was only outpatient surgery and no one seemed too worried. Everything turned out just fine. Yet, I was left wondering, as they rolled her out of the room towards the O.R., was this the beginning of that time of life where we take turns, she and I, chauffeuring, waiting and watching worriedly?

On that day, last Friday, the nurses of the Jupiter Outpatient Surgery Center went about their business without wasting any time. They were constantly in motion, making sure that everyone was prepped for their surgery, knew what to expect and when it should happen. Yet, all the while they maintained a connection to the human beings in the room – their patients and the hand wringing spouses. There was never a moment when our needs were not met whether clinical or emotional. They dealt with us with a blend of compassion and gallows humor that seemed just right.

What a contrast to the experience of a few days ago when I “fired” a doctor I have been seeing for over a dozen years. I think he finally got his “practice model” on track. He sees 10 to 12 patients per hour leaving little time for questions or discussion. He has invested in some equipment so he can perform procedures that generate high income per event. So, of course, he must steer you toward those procedures to earn enough revenue to achieve his return on investment target. Somehow, the fact that his patients are human beings got lost in the shuffle.

Florence Nightingale observed that nursing is an art that “requires an exclusive devotion”. She compared her art, nursing, to those of sculptors and painters. Theirs deals with “dead canvas or dead marble”. Hers deals with the “living body, the temple of God’s spirit”.

I have an insatiable appetite for history, economics and public policy. My focus for this blog is Leadership with a capital L. But, this week it struck me that Leadership takes many forms. It isn’t always about big institutions and big societal initiatives. It can be about doing the right thing one on one.

So, this week, my answer to the question “WHO WILL LEAD?” are the good nurses of the Jupiter Outpatient Surgery Center.


  1. Your comments on today's healthcare and the questions of tomorrow's in this country lead me to refer you to an article I read today:

  2. We're glad that Suzanne is alright. It is comforting to know that somewhere in the trenches, there are people that care.

  3. Leadership can bubble up from the group rather than trinkle down from the top. I enjoyed your nice acknowledgment of dedicated professionals.

  4. Leadership comes in all forms. I suppose we need it more when it involves an agenda that we just don't have a comfort level in understanding the practice of it--the true reason to hire professionals. Very well written.