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My Uncle Built Ford Cars, I Build Collaborative Models

Posted By Jennifer Hodgson, Monday, November 16, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Now I have never honestly owned a Ford but my Uncle Ronnie worked for Ford for many years. He was devoted and loyal. He believed in his product and the fact that it was American made. He used to brag about how each car was touched by American hands prior to being shipped to its destination. That always stuck with me. The sense of pride and devotion he had to Ford despite the challenges of the job, the economy.

I recall one instance many years ago when honoring pride and devotion were central to initiating a collaborative care model into a cancer care unit. The nurses in the chemo bay were opposed to mental health being there. After all, their belief was that we would upset the patients and their job was to help keep them calm and receptive to treatment. Then one of my students approached me with an idea. She was a nurse and understood the gate keeping that was taking place. She spoke to the lead nurse and got permission to work with one patient who would cry during every chemo treatment. Once the nurse saw how the therapy happened, she started inviting that therapist into the chemo bay more. She knew my student understood the culture and was pleased with the results of the work done with patients there. My student understood the pride, devotion, and loyalty of that nurse to the patients. She was not being resistant to collaboration but resisted anything that would decrease the quality of the patient's outcome.

Since that student graduated, we have not had another student in that unit. Our relationship to that unit was tied to the unique credentials of that student and her ability to build a relationship with that nurse. Just like the production of a Ford product, it takes someone monitoring the fidelity of the process and product to ensure its safety. Rather than judge these quality assurance professionals, we need to learn how to respect their passion for protecting the patients and making sure they get the care they need.

I build models of collaboration for a living and my Uncle built cars. I used to think we could not be any further apart in our professional interests; today I appreciate how we could not be any more alike.

I am curious about the stories of those who are out there doing collaborative/integrated care. Do you have stories about your attempts to manufacture a top quality collaborative product? Was it a bit shaky at times but your devotion and belief in the process outweighed the challenges from inception to production?

* Tribute to my Uncle Ronnie who passed away earlier this year

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