Vitals Name: Stephen Berns, MD Title: Director of Education for Palliative Medicine, Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital; Associate Program Director, Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship, The Mount Sinai Health System Advice to the Next Generation of Caregivers: Berns encourages young caregivers to cultivate their listening skills because sometimes just listening in silence can be very …
“Caring for the cancer patient is complicated, time-consuming and demanding. Physicians who care effectively for their cancer patients must reach deeply within themselves to mobilize their inner resources for this effective care.” Dr. Daniel Burdick wrote these words in 1987; nearly 30 years later, they remain as true as ever. As a general surgeon and …
Compassion in Action with Ramita Bonadonna, PhD, APRN-BC: Giving care, but remembering to care for the self
Vitals Name: Ramita Bonadonna, PhD, APRN-BC Title: Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Nurse, Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Advice to the Next Generation of Caregivers: Bonadonna advises caregivers to have a desire to grow as they interact with people. She also encourages caregivers to develop personal relationships with their patients. Interesting Facts: Bonadonna is a student …
Compassion in Action with Reb. Naomi Tzril Saks, MA, M.Div., BCC: Practicing mindfulness from within
Vitals Name: Reb. Naomi Tzril Saks, MA, M.Div., BCC Title: Director of Spiritual Care and Volunteer Services at Kaiser Permanente Advice to the Next Generation of Caregivers: Saks advises new caregivers to follow their inner voice and seek the best training possible, either in the form of academics, meditation or whole person training in order to …
It started out as an average day for Nancy Searl, a fourth-grader at the time, where the class would gather as part of the daily routine and listen to a story read by their teacher before going home for lunch. As other kids dashed out of the classroom following story time, Ms. Simpson pulled Searl aside to tell her about the new boy. “He’s older because he’s been out of school for a very long time and I want you to push your desk right beside him,” said Ms. Simpson. Determined not to let her favorite teacher down, Searl did exactly as asked and soon found out why Ms. Simpson trusted her with this important task.
Compassion in Action with Steven Field, MD: Building long-term patient relationships through listening
At a young age, Steven Field experienced a life-changing event that has been integral to shaping his perspective of the patient-caregiver relationship. His mother was diagnosed with cancer when he was 12 years old, and he remembers his mother’s doctor modeling behaviors that showed him a compassionate way to care for others. Encouraged by his family’s experience with a caring provider, Field decided to volunteer at his local hospital throughout junior high school and high school, visiting with patients and then later working on physician-led research projects.
“I think one of my uniforms will fit you. Please put one on and come down here. I need you,” said her mother. Heeding her request, JoAnne Reifsnyder donned a uniform and headed to the small nursing home set in a historic stone mansion where her mother worked as the director of nursing. Reifsnyder was only in high school at the time, but still vividly recalls her first impression. “I got to enter this world that was just incredibly beautiful, and met older adults who had stories to tell and life in their eyes,” says Reifsnyder. “I was captivated.”
The patient was in her twenties, pursuing her dream in the U.S., with a full life ahead of her. Then one day, she was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Rev. Birte Beuck recalls the time spent together with this patient in clinic and the deep bonds this young woman formed with her care team. “She was at the hospital where I worked at the time, and was in and out for many months,” said Beuck, who is now the Director of Spiritual Care Services at John Muir Health in California. “One of her last wishes was to travel back to Peru because she wanted to die at home.” It was a long way from California to Peru and the young woman didn’t have any means to get back home. Beuck pulled the care team together and they devised a plan to help.
The dinner table is a place where families come together to reflect on their day and be present in the moment with each other. For Mia Lozada, it was where her family talked about health and medicine, given her father’s profession as a surgeon. The language of science was very comfortable for her at an early age, and when she started college she explored pre-med and social work as potential career paths. She enjoyed science and helping people in their time of need, and ultimately decided to become a physician.
While in high school, I worked as an orderly, a volunteer at the American Oncologic Hospital in Philadelphia, which is now Fox Chase Cancer Center. So early in my life, I was exposed to cancer patients and their families. I saw how challenging, yet rewarding it could be to potentially help people at a time in their lives when they needed it the most…being struck by their courage, dignity and humanity. So this led to majoring in science in college and teaching high school science before committing to medical school, and the rest is history.