How to be a positive devient

Performing well is something expected of all within health care. Yet this is expected of human beings that bring all their frailty and fatigue as well as their expertise and skill to their jobs each day. We cannot be perfect but the desire and the will to perform well each day sits with us all.

In Atul Gawande's book Better he examines how diligence, ingenuity and the desire to do right are required in any endeavour that involves risk and responsibility. He had me in the introduction recounting a scene many of you will relate to and one I've seen played out many times. He is reassuring and honest in his descriptions of attempts to maintain hand hygiene, is frank in his accounts around the death chamber and many of you will relate to the experiences of theatre scheduling.

"Betterment is perpertual labor. The world is chaotic, disorganised and vexing and medicine is nowhere spared that reality.
To complicate matters, we in medicine are also only humans ourselves. We are distractible, weak and given to our own conners."

While I heartedly recommend you reading this book, I know time is short. He concludes in an Afterword:Suggestions for becoming a positive deviant. And these are doable for us all.

Ask an unscripted question
You start to remember the people you see and the machine feels less like a machine

Don't complain
It's boring, it doesn't solve anything, be prepared to discuss something else (even the weather)

Count something
If you count something you find interesting, you will learn something interesting

Write something
What you write need not achieve perfection. (This blog and my emails are me doing my write something, I'd written to myself and felt brave enough to start sharing)

Look for the opportunity to change, recognise the inadequacies and seek out solutions.


Atual Gawande has written a few books and I picked up another one of his last weekend. He has also done a TED talk, he is measured, deliberate speaker with a passion that cuts through to the why of why are all here.


Katie QuinneyBooks, Change