Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life's Not-So-Little Lessons

It’s hard to believe, but another Woman’s Journey conference is behind us. On Saturday, just one week following the conference, I attended a baby naming where someone remarked they heard that this year’s program was the best. After 17 years, she asked, why was November’s Woman’s Journey so special?

Most women attend our annual Johns Hopkins women’s health conference to learn about medical advances and specific diseases. This year was no different. The two keynote speakers, however, touched the hearts of the thousand women who attended the conference. They are extraordinary story tellers with powerful messages.

Sorrel King retold the devastating loss of her 18 month old daughter as a result of a medical error at The Johns Hopkins Hospital more than 10 years ago. She shared her profound grief and courageous and compassionate decision to honor her daughter's memory and create the Josie King Foundation dedicated to patient safety. Mrs. King has shared her story with thousands of health professionals and has worked with Dr. Peter Pronovost, director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality to reduce the U.S.’s reported 98,000 annual deaths caused by medical errors. Her story underscored the need to turn tragedy—from the loss of a child to just a bad day—into something positive that can help other human beings.

During Lunch with the Faculty, emergency medicine physician Dr. Christina Catlett told of her journey from a southern college sorority house to The Johns Hopkins Hospital Emergency Room. In this medical setting,she assembles a team of Hopkins health care providers to travel to areas, including Haiti,that have been destroyed by natural disasters. Dr. Catlett described the rampant destruction. Yet, following a subsequent professional meeting in Australia, she serendipitously found herself climbing a mountain(it was only 900 feet high). This exhilarating experience led her to acquire medical wilderness certification and pursue a new-found quest to reach summits across the globe. Her message was simple: find your passion and strive for balance within your life.

You might not be able to share the experience with other women, but I urge you to watch the conference website: for postings of video and audio excerpts from this November's extraordinary presentations. And, don’t miss next year’s speakers who undoubtedly will be just as inspirational as Sorrel King and Christina Catlett. Save the date now for next year’s conference: Saturday, November 17, 2012.


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