Baylor puts focus on professionalism in March

Baylor’s Center for Professionalism sponsored professionalism month in March, hosting several events for faculty, staff and students.

“The Art of Perception”

Two lectures on “The Art of Perception” were presented by Amy Herman, J.D., who has taught at prominent medical schools in New York and served as a consultant to law enforcement professionals, the Secret Service and the FBI.

Amy Herman's book on the art of perception

Amy Herman’s book on the art of perception

Amy Herman

Amy Herman

Herman founded the Art of Perception program to help medical students improve their observation and communication skills, but the program can benefit professionals in a variety of fields.

In her first talk, “The Art of Perception: Practice and Professionalism Reconsidered,” Herman encouraged the audience to study works of art and talk about the observations they made to their colleagues. This served to improve their individual and collective abilities to distinguish the differences between perception and inference. As a result of this exercise, they learned to analyze, expand on and reconsider the skills necessary to perform their professional responsibilities.

“Art teaches professionals across a wide spectrum of fields how to ask more effective questions,” Herman said. “More importantly, it teaches you how to analyze complex real work situations from a different perspective, ultimately helping you solve difficult problems and increase attention to detail and the ability to step back and look differently,” Herman said.

Herman believes that by looking at works of art we are stepping out of our comfort zone and engaging a different part our brain. According to Herman, looking at art, talking about what we see, and then going back into our field and using those exact same skills can help us shift perspective.

The goal of her second lecture, “The Art of Perception: Rethinking Professional Acuity,” was to enhance observation and promote effective articulation, both of which are critical to many industries and fields of study.

“Two people will never see things exactly the same way,” Herman said. “Therefore, we must shift perspective in order to see clear. We must assess, analyze, articulate and adapt our behaviors in order to improve our observation and communication skills.”

Herman encouraged our professionals to take a few things from the presentation:

  • Everything deserves a second chance
  • Big picture or small details –they are both important
  • Think about what you might be missing
  • Be a listener
  • Broaden your imagination (creativity is important)
  • Do an honest self-evaluation

Herman’s strategy to help professionals improve their observation and communications skills is to rethink what we see on an everyday basis and put it in a completely different context to try and improve professional acuity.

“Communicating as Colleagues”

The lecture, “Communicating as Colleagues,” was presented by Dr. Michelle Lopez, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor, Dr. Ellen Friedman, professor of otolaryngology and pediatrics at Baylor, and Dr. Geeta Singhal, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor.

The objective of the lecture was to enhance patient care by improving communication and collegiality as colleagues.

“Remember that everyone is going through different struggles,” said Lopez. “Medicine is a team sport and as the leader of the health care team, we are always role modeling.”

The discussion included an interactive workshop between students and attending physicians aiming to inspire improvements when working together. Students were divided into different groups and each group was assigned an attending physician. The professionals shared their personal experiences with their groups concerning unprofessional behaviors and interactions between medical teams.

Lopez reminded the students that their center of focus should always be around the patients. She assured them that as long as they prioritize patients when they have conflicts they should always be able to work through issues.

“I want you to feel empowered when you observe unprofessional behavior that you know is not acceptable and do not emulate it,” said Lopez. “It is important that you advocate for your patients. There are always going to be different challenges, but it will always be up to you to speak up for your patients.”

To keep the focus on professionalism all year long, the Center for Professionalism has installed a kiosk in the Alkek Lobby on the main Baylor campus. Faculty, staff and trainees are encouraged to add their thoughts on what professionalism means to them.