Guest blog post by 2019 Housing Central Keynote Dr. Brian Goldman
When I pitched a book about empathy and kindness, I had assumed that I would be taking a deep dive into the challenges of being empathic in the world of medicine.
After all, that is my area of expertise. I know all too well how factors such as stress, time pressure, computer technology and medical complexity make it extremely difficult for physicians, nurses, paramedics and other healthcare providers to be kind on the job.
In fact, it was a story about my own lack of kindness during a shift in the ER where I work that set me off upon my journey to rediscover my own capacity for empathy.
Fortunately, for me, my publisher didn’t want an analysis of the lack of empathy in healthcare. My editor Jim Gifford told me to broaden my horizons, and to examine the role of empathy in all walks of life.
It was an astute decision that has enabled me to speak at the Housing Central Conference put on by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association.
I searched long and hard to the four corners of the world in search of emphatic people who could show me their acts of kindness and teach me how to follow in their footsteps.
What I discovered is that the challenges we face being emphatic in healthcare are remarkably similar to the ones people face in the non-profit housing sector.
Homelessness is a problem throughout the world. The problem is complicated by the intersecting challenges of drug addiction, psychological trauma, migration, and domestic violence. In the ER where I have worked for more than 30 years, not a shift goes by that I don’t see at least one homeless person. In the winter, they come in droves. Health professionals see them as wanting something from us: a sandwich, a used pair of shoes, or shelter from the cold.
What we fail to do is see them as human beings with lives to live and stories to tell. That is the main message I will share at Housing Central Conference. I’ll tell you how an act of unkindness towards a family in need in the ER sent me on my journey. And, I’ll introduce you to some of the extraordinary people I met on my journey who showed me The Power of Kindness in making better the lives of the people we serve. And ours.
Dr. Brian Goldman has been called “a doctor for all Canadians.” For more than three decades, he’s been a respected ER physician at Sinai Health System in Toronto. Since 2007, Goldman has hosted White Coat, Black Art, an award winning show that pulls back the curtain and demystifies the patient experience in the culture of modern medicine. He is the author of three Canadian best selling books; his latest – The Power of Kindness: Why Empathy is Essential in Everyday Life – explores his personal and professional search for empathy in his brain, his heart and around the world. Hear him speak on Tuesday, November 19th, at the #HousingCentral Conference. Early bird registration closes tomorrow – save and secure your spot now at conference.housingcentral.ca!