Excellence is defined as “attaining superiority or eminence; to surpass all others.”1 In this day and age, everyone talks about excellence. We have excellence in education, excellence in sports, excellence in just about anything in which someone participates, including excellence in wound care.
Everyone wants to lay claim to excellence, but few want to do what it takes to achieve it. As discussed in last month’s editorial, many feel they are entitled to “excellence” because of who they are or the position they hold.2 Unfortunately, excellence requires hard work, long hours, striving and attaining goals, and sacrificing what others would consider “good times.” George Carlin, the comedian, illustrated this problem in today’s world when he said, “Most people work just hard enough not to get fired, and get paid just enough not to quit.” When excellence becomes too difficult, what happens? People settle for mediocrity. When that occurs, disaster is just around the corner. If left unchallenged long enough, satisfaction with mediocrity will act as a cancer that invades the mind and destroys the pursuit of excellence.3
At the recent Symposium on Advanced Wound Care (SAWC), there were many people in attendance striving for excellence. They traveled to Atlanta seeking to learn new techniques and ideas to treat patients with wounds. I saw many eagerly going from session to session, from early morning to night, trying to learn the newest and best. I think those who attended the meeting for the first time certainly received a “baptism by fire” with all of the educational opportunities that were available. The meeting was definitely an endurance race and not a sprint! I am sure that everyone took at least one piece of information (if not more) home to help overcome any mediocrity in their wound care.
But what about those who were not able to attend the conference? The hope is that those who attended will share the information with colleagues. We do this in an effort to ensure that our wound centers are “centers of excellence.” I know we talk about certain centers having that designation, but each of our wound practices should be a center of excellence in practice, if not in name. One of the first ways to establish your center as one of excellence is to expect it to be! Steve Jobs of Apple said, “Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” It is our duty to set the example and the standard for our coworkers. It is just as important for the person answering the telephone to strive to excel in that task as it is for the provider to excel in patient care. We are all a team in the wound center. If one person chooses to accept mediocrity, the cancer will spread throughout the facility, ruining the effect of everyone else’s good work. When a group of people seeks excellence, it is contagious. No one wants to allow the group to fail while striving for the goal. Are you setting an example in your facility that will encourage fellow workers to join you as you strive for excellence in patient care?
What if all wound centers were named “centers of excellence”? Excellence implies a standard that can be achieved and copied. When we all reach that standard, do we simply stop since we have achieved “the top”? Of course not! Excellence means that we surpass all others. If all are now equal, we must continue to raise the standard of excellence. In medicine, the standard of excellence is elusive, but worth pursuing. Please join me as we continue to strive for excellence in wound care. Our patients will be the benefactors of our efforts, and we shall enjoy a magnificent experience striving for the goal.
1. Urdang L, Flexner SB, eds. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, College Edition. Random House; New York, NY; 1968:460.
2. Treadwell T. Entitled—Are You Sure? WOUNDS. 2012;24(4):A6.
3. Edwards M. The nouns that define us. Am J Surg. 2003;186(4):317–320.