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Reflections on Teaching Disclosure to Medical, Nursing Students

Recently, I was invited to be the keynote speaker for the Inter-Professional Education and Practice Collaborative at The Ohio State University. This was actually the third year in a row I had been asked by Ohio State to give this talk. Just to describe the setting...the Collaborative pulls in every first year student in each of the health profession schools at Ohio State, from medical, nursing, dental, vet-med, and so on. Over a thousand students and dozens of faculty members crowd into the Archie Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union for two hours on a cold January night to learn all about disclosure and apology.

After giving my talk this year, I faded to the back of the room and watched the students being shown videos of disclosure cases. Following the videos, faculty members discussed with small groups of students at their tables how to do disclosure.

What a surreal experience.

Eighteen years earlier, I lost my brother to medical errors 90 minutes to the south of the OSU campus in a Cincinnati hospital. There was no disclosure, and many of the Ohio State healthcare faculty had grown up professionally during that time period and none of them were taught disclosure as young pups. In fact, they were taught the exact opposite: Keep your mouth shut. But, here they were now teaching the next generation of healthcare professionals how to say sorry and be transparent when things go wrong. That's what I call progress....

Being a part of the Ohio State Collaborative made me reflect on all the work done by Sorry Works! What a go from losing a brother and receiving no accountability, to working with a top-flight university in my home state to teach the next generation a better way. What an experience, but there is so much more to do.

Earlier this year, I posted a blog about a dean from another medical school advocating for disclosure training of students...that has been one of our most widely read posts this year. Clearly, folks see a need here. If future clinicians leave school without disclosure training, they are not equipped to be in a clinical setting. Period. End of story.

As I write this blog post, I am returning from New England where I gave a series of talks for a hospital system, including one presentation to their nursing school faculty. Another great experience. I also had a recent phone call in which a veteran risk manager said she now sees residents regularly asking for training and help with disclosure. More progress, but more work to do.

Sorry Works! is ready to help schools meet the demand for disclosure training. Give us a call at 618-559-8168, or e-mail

Thanks, and Go Buckeyes!

Hey, remember, next Thursday, March 23rd, at 1pm ET/10am PT, Sorry Works! and our partner The Sullivan Group are holding a free webinar. To register, simply click on this link.

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