Presence. Period.

Providers must not only be there for their patients, they must be there with their patients. With the rapid transformation of caring practices, growing stress, and a sea of unknowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, providers are navigating the delicate balance of being present and also physically distant from patients and their families. This provocative piece by esteemed medical thought leader Dr. Abraham Verghese encourages providers to Notice not just a patient’s symptoms, but the patient as a whole being.

Seeing the whole person requires careful and attentive Noticing. Verghese shares his Experience of stopping in an art museum and slowly being pulled in as he observed the works of art. Time and again he would LOOK and each time discovered something new, saw something else, felt a new emotion. He applies this thinking to his medical work–what can you see when you truly Notice? Did you Notice the cigarette box outline in the pocket? The mother who had a skin condition? The look in a patient’s eyes? We should consciously take in the whole person to make the Connection–and be present. Patients and guests don’t only deserve this Noticing, they require it to heal and to thrive.

What knowledge might we glean from people’s lives when giving them all of our ''Noticing'' energy? What are the invisible, yet powerful, forces in our work that deserve Noticing? Is it a daily technology that makes it possible to complete a task or project? Is it the environmental service crew that works the night shift to ensure a safe and clean space? What good might come from acknowledging these individuals fully? How might we shed the right kind of light on these people or practices to ensure that we are not the only one who Notices them?

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