In praise of pit crews

Dr. Atul GawandeMay 26, 2011 -- Today I watched one of my heroes, Atul Gawande, speak at Harvard Medical School's commencement. He talked about needed changes in the culture of healthcare providers, usually meaning doctors (he is one). He said that what winning race teams need -- even more than daring drivers -- is well-trained, well-coordinated pit crews.

The same is true for nursing. We all want that brilliant nurse whose instinct, experience, and intuition enable her to provide the extraordinary care we need and deserve. Alas, the reality is that no nurse can be like that at all times, and it is a model that neither scales nor is realistic. Instead, Gawande offers as a model for doctors (and I believe it applies equally to nurses) that fine-tuned pit crew, using checklists and overlooking no detail. Checklists may appear pedestrian but they are essential to getting complex jobs done.

Do we still want heroic doctors? Of course, they are great when we can get them, but there is no guarantee. Good pit crews, on the other hand, can be replicated.

Gawande exhorted, "Include humility... and discipline, belief in standardization... Teamwork, recognition that others can save you from failure no matter who they are in the hierarchy... Success under conditions of complexity demands these qualities."

This sentiment is a mantra here at NurseMind. Our product is a smart checklist.  We hope it will hasten the cultural transition healthcare providers are poised to achieve.