Yesterday I was given the opportunity to speak at my local hospital, Kingston General Hospital. It wasn’t a big group and it was quite informal so I had a really fun time with it.
In keeping with my writing and my advocacy goals – either for organ and tissue donation or as a chronic illness ambassador – I need to get out there and share my story as often as I can.
Yesterday I spoke to hospital administrators from both Kingston, and some visiting from the Toronto area. My talk was about my volunteer job as a Patient Experience Advisor at the hospital. (This is a job that I take a lot of pride in . . . and that I really enjoy.)
At Kingston General Hospital they are working to incorporate the patient perspective into medical protocol and practice across the board. Patient Experience Advisors sit on committees and share their experiences to positively impact policy, practice and culture within the hospital.
I shared my medical history with the group so they could understand what I was drawing from in my role. I shared a list of committees I’d been asked to join – and had joined. I mentioned a few really positive experiences I’d had since becoming a Patient Experience Advisor. Experiences that let me know that my input wasn’t just listened to but whole-heartedly heard and embraced. Taken into consideration when hospital-related decisions are being made.
There is something remarkable about having a voice. Being able to share my perspective and having it influence how the hospital is run. But there is also something remarkable in getting to share my experience period. Helping these medical administrators see how being a Patient Experience Advisor feels. How empowering it is to be heard and to participate in my medical care.
One of the things I had to mention in my talk was how positive it was to turn all my years of difficult medical experiences into something constructive and positive. How good it feels to actively participate in my own healthcare experience – making things better for myself – but also making things better for other patients.
I have learned to love getting up and sharing my journey. I find as soon as I lose myself to the experience and treat the talk like a conversation (a real opportunity to communicate) I end up having a ball. It’s funny because I used to hate public speaking.
I have been asked to speak at the hospital again later this month. I am excited for another chance to share my story.