Serving on this mission in Guatemala reinforces many of the things that make teams perform at high levels.
There are 34 people on the team. Eight of us aren’t graced with medical skills or training. Twenty-six are. Those 26 will man four operating rooms, making sure patients are ready for surgery, experience the surgery and are cared for after the surgery until they can be released to go home.
Most of the patients are sicker than we in America would be allowed to get before surgery took place. Most of the patients get discharged before we in America would prefer to be discharged. But, since most of the people never expected that their ailments could be healed, they express gratitude for the blessing of the miracle and stoically endure the pain as they head home to heal.
While us non-medical types cook, run errands, handle logistics to aid the medical types, the medical team has to form and gel quickly. A few have some experience together but many are new to the group.
For this to work well, you have to be willing to speak your opinion and be assertive about telling what you have done, what you have been trained to do and what you are capable of doing. As the week flows forward, people swap places to better execute the care. Relationships and trust build.
From time to time, a medical need presents itself that we don’t have the ideal team member to address. When that occurs, you will find doctors dropping back to assist or nurses doing things in an operating room where they usually would be working caring for patients in recovery. We have students along as well. They all rave at the vast amount of experience they get on the trip.
The bad attitude is rare. The stakes are too high. The opportunity to change lives and to make a difference trumps ego.
I’ve been watching a great team this week. I am confident it will help me be a better teammate when I return. Thanks for holding down the fort while I’ve been away.