After the Election: Moving Forward with Empathy and Respect
I write this message to the UF Health community with confidence that, whatever our reactions to the results of last week’s election, the fundamental value of our work in patient care, education and research will continue unabated, and the differences among us in the way we view the world will be respected and valued.
This weekend, I was reminded on several occasions about the fundamental importance of the work that we do at UF and UF Health in our three missions of education, patient care and research. On Thursday evening, my wife and I saw a recent UF graduate at a restaurant who I had come to know in connection with his community service for our children’s hospital. He recently learned that he had achieved his dream of being accepted to medical school and was thrilled about the future that lies ahead of him. On Friday afternoon, I saw a patient in the hospital who had needed surgery urgently; although our staff was somewhat reduced on Veterans Day, his UF surgeon and our hospital OR team pulled together and completed the procedure expertly and efficiently. The patient was extremely grateful for the care he was receiving from his nurses and for the work of the kitchen in providing him with dinner (his first food of the day!). And in the supermarket on Saturday, I saw a research technician who was very excited about the potential impact of new work in her laboratory on the treatment of cancer.
At the same time, since the election on Tuesday many of my conversations with faculty and staff inevitably turned to the election. While I cannot remember having a single discussion about politics with any of these individuals for the 7+ years at UF, this was different; emotions were running high and people wanted to talk. Needless to say, just like the division in our country, many in our community were deflated while others were elated. But consider this: The same people who have worked together on our teams for many years, the same group of people of varied backgrounds who have produced the kinds of successes in education, research and patient care that I happened to come across last weekend, have not changed. Indeed, we have likely held different views about our country’s social and economic challenges for the entire time we have worked together. Nonetheless, these teams will continue to show courage and commitment to our ongoing missions, which are not going away: There will surely be patients to take care of, students to educate and discoveries to be made. We are committed to achieving these missions in a supportive environment of respect for one another, and in an atmosphere of genuine hospitality for our patients, academic guests and other visitors.
Following an election where a clear message was the need to listen better to one another, to hear what is truly being said, and to show empathy and respect for each other’s experience and viewpoint, we at UF Health can redouble our efforts at communication, teamwork, empathy and hospitality with every patient, student and guest we serve, and with every research study we undertake. While we cannot easily promote community healing on a national scale, we can make sure that everyone we meet on a daily basis, whether patient, colleague or visiting guest, feels respected and heard. And simply by doing so, we can set an example that just might make a positive contribution in ways greater than we may ever realize.
David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs, UF
President, UF Health