and that pursue lofty goals in
the care of their patients.
Most of us don’t view surgical
practice as a job. We view it
as a calling. The passion and
sense of purpose that drives
physicians connects us with
our patients in a way that
reassures and inspires them. At
the same time, it is important
to emphasize that clinician
well-being and self-awareness
have a powerful effect on our
ability to communicate better,
which in turn will improve the
interpersonal relationships that
drive patient satisfaction and
behavior. A clinician’s mental
well-being is a precondition for
being effective in the delivery
of care and in recognizing and
valuing the patient’s perspective
as distinct from one’s own. 8
Keeping the arch stable
for a rewarding career
I have described the importance
of building trust through
communications, primarily in
the context of the practice of
medicine. In every encounter
with our patients, our teams,
or for that matter, with
ourselves, our own souls, we
have a unique opportunity to
do good—to make someone
feel better or to improve the
image of our workplace—and
allow us to build trust, no
matter how small or how big
the opportunity or the result
may be. I invite you to reflect
on this simple statement, and
if you believe it, if you see
yourself using each encounter
to affix that keystone that
ensures the integrity of the arch
described earlier, then I say to
you: do it. Be present. Seize
each opportunity to do what
your heart tells you is the right
thing to do at every turn of that
long, winding road that we call
life. That way when you reach
the sunset of your career, you
will feel as if you lived and as
if your life mattered—to you,
to your patients, to your team,
and to humanity at large. ♦
1. Trust. 2016. Merriam-Webster.com.
Available at: www.merriam-webster.
November 23, 2016.
2. Pellegrino ED, Thomasma DC.
Fidelity of Trust. The Virtues in
Medical Practice. Oxford, U.K. Oxford
University Press, 1993. 65-83.
3. Caterinicchio RP. Testing plausible
path models of interpersonal trust
in patient-physician treatment
relationships. Soc Sci Med.
4. Thom DH, Wong ST, Guzman D,
et al. Physician trust in the patient:
Development and validation of a new
measure. Ann Fam Med. 2011; 9( 2):148-
5. Epstein RM, Franks P, Fiscella K,
et al. Measuring patient-centered
communication in patient-physician
consultations: Theoretical and
practical issues. Soc Sci Med.
6. Shanafelt TD, Balch CM, Bechamps
GJ, et al. Burnout and career
satisfaction among American surgeons.
Ann Surg. 2009;250( 3):463-471.
7. Shanafelt TD, Balch CM, Bechamps
G, et al. Burnout and medical errors
among American surgeons. Ann
Surg. 2010;251( 6):995-1000.
8. Chochinov HM, McClement SE,
Hack TF, et al. Healthcare provider
communication: An empirical model
of optimal therapeutic effectiveness.
JAN 2017 BULLETIN American College of Surgeons
A LOOK AT THE JOINT COMMISSION
Most of us don’t view surgical practice as a job. We view it as a calling.
The passion and sense of purpose that drives physicians connects
us with our patients in a way that reassures and inspires them.