1. We know that you have a medical background. What motivated you to become a registered nurse?
A passion for biology and chemistry, plus two parts geek-girl, and one part pragmatist, mixed with a dash of curiosity, and a sprinkle of teenager. I was 18 when I entered my bachelor’s program in nursing. My goal was to become a molecular physiologist, and I needed a way to fund my graduate education. My plan was to finish undergrad with the ability to work and finance my graduate education working as an RN. It was a brilliant plan. While my graduate colleagues were waiting tables, I was working in a major medical facility, making an excellent income for a 22 year old.
2. What did you learn about medicine and life during your career as a clinician?
I’ve been a clinician for almost 30 years and so much has changed. I’ve learned more from colleagues and patients than I did in undergrad or graduate school. My research in molecular physiology in the 1990s was a direct inspiration delivered to me by my pediatric patients with cancer. I’ve learned far more about living from those who I cared for who were dying. I’ve learned a great deal about life through the vehicle of illness, medicine, and patient care. Most of all, I learned that both life and medicine function best when I develop healthy relationships. Everything hinges on relationships. The quality of our experience both personally and professionally is relationship centric.
3. How has medicine evolved since you began in the field?
My nursing career launched in 1987. The world has changed and keeps changing. Everything is in the midst of a digital disruption. Technology, robotics, machine learning, nanotechnology, the Internet of Things, (IOT), artificial intelligence, and mobile.
From prevention, early detection, and intervention, everything we think we know today is outdated tomorrow. So much has changed in nearly 30 years, and technology is driving a new experience in every industry – big data, analytics, the computing power to make sense of previously dark and unstructured data. Everything will be connected soon…from pharmacologic agents to sponges.
4. What are some the lessons/stories that you have learned in speaking to other medical associations?
We are all a family. When you work in this industry there’s a certain unspoken understanding. The cast of a knowing glance from one health-care practitioner to another. This connectedness of experience transcends specialty practice and titles.
5. What are some of the issues/challenges that clinicians face today that they have expressed to you during your speeches/visits?
Health-care delivery has changed as acuity levels have increased while inpatient stays have decreased. The Afforable Care Act and health-care reimbursement are massive issues today as insurance companies are pulling out. Computerized charting has changed the face-to-face interaction between clinician and patient, and physical time spent at the bedside has dramatically decreased. Medical professionals are burdened to do more with less. Burnout is at an all-time high.
6. Why are you excited to speak at CHEST 2016?
I’m thrilled to share successful strategies to elevate and support the clinicians who are out in the trenches helping people in their communities. Clinicians take care of patients, but who takes care of the clinicians? It’s an honor to serve, to uplift, and support the health-care providers who are making a difference through their service. I believe that the more patients trust and like their health-care providers, the more likely they are to understand, accept and comply with treatment, (a.k.a. increased compliance.)
Furthermore, patients are more likely to praise “my doctor” or “my nurse” when talking with family and friends. Since this is the premier conference for pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine clinicians, and CHEST is so well known for attracting top clinicians, I believe the actionable insights my co-presenter Kare Anderson and I bring for reputation building are a vital complement to the entire CHEST conference.
7. What do you hope that people take away from your talk at CHEST 2016?
I believe that the actionable insights they gain for how to become more widely known for their clinical skills and their dedication will give them more opportunities to use those skills and have a halo effect on the hospitals and communities where they serve. In our increasingly complex yet connected world where people get “information” from online and social media platforms, it is vital for physicians to understand ways to protect and boost their reputation.
My hope is that every CHEST attendees will walk away inspired, moved, motivated and infused with creative ideas they can then take action with support from powerful internal and external stakeholders, getting their needs met professionally and building the professional reputation they deserve.
Tamara McCleary is a CHEST 2016 Keynote Speaker.
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