Thomas Edison is believed to have said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” The idea is that great ideas coupled with hard work is the key to being successful in any endeavor. I was reminded of this quote recently while watching one of those Master Classes online. This one featured Ron Howard. He talked about editing, directing, and (my favorite topic) storytelling.
As he was talking, he said something I thought was pretty remarkable.
He said that his goal as the director of a film is to help actors bring everything they can to develop their characters. His advice to them is to attack the role both as a professional and as an artist.
This helps his actors make a connection to something greater than simply memorizing the lines in the script. It helps to tell a bigger story and I would argue that his advice has proven incredibly effective given the amount of awards his films have earned through the years.
Howard isn’t simply telling actors how to run a scene better. He’s inspiring them to take their professional talents and unite them with their role as an artist to ultimately create and tell a story that is bigger than themselves.
We can do the same in healthcare.
I often talk about the concept of the art and science of medicine. Both are necessary if we want to deliver a world-class patient experience.
The ‘science’ is the expertise each care team member brings to the job. From the top surgeon with all the credentials after her name, to the patient services representative who processes the patient’s paperwork and billing information, to the food services employee who prepares meals for recovering patients. Each of these care team members was hired because they bring a unique set of skills to the job task at hand.
Their job tasks and their expertise are the ‘science’. And, if the science is the WHAT of medicine, then the art is the HOW.
It’s the way in which that expertise is delivered.
It’s the way that surgeon holds the patient’s hand before surgery and reassures them about what will happen before, during, and after the surgery. It’s the way the patient services representative warmly greets nervous patients with a smile and then helps them feel more at ease while walking them through the complicated paperwork. And, it’s the way the food services employee prepares and delivers food that heals and takes the time to open a milk carton for an elderly patient. In order to create great patient experiences, each of these professionals must embrace both the art and science of medicine by doing their tasks expertly and efficiently with just the right blend of kindness and compassion.
Great leaders find a way to connect their employees to a greater purpose and inspire them to embrace the art and science of medicine. It’s a difficult task, but when employees are connected to something greater than their job tasks, everyone wins.
The employee wins because they are empowered knowing they are part of the healing team, no matter what their specific job description may be. The patient wins because they are receiving expert care delivered with compassion and kindness. And, the organization wins because now everyone is working toward the same goal of telling a story that fulfills the organization’s mission and delivers on their promise to provide a world-class experience.