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The Healthcare Arena

Words, when put into action, have the power to change us.

I’m taking you back in time for a moment, to the 2013 NANT Conference where some of you heard keynote speaker, author, and researcher Brené Brown recite the quote that changed her life and led to the title of her groundbreaking NY Times Best Seller Daring Greatly.

The famous quote that inspired her (see below) always reminds me of you. Why? Because you are in an epic battle to improve healthcare. To improve neonatal care. To improve the care of someone’s son or daughter today in your unit.

Some might roll their eyes at the word ‘battle’. That’s because they’re not standing where you are. What else do you call working tirelessly for efforts that are bigger than you among forces that are seemingly unequal and lost in decades of unrecognized and unsupportive culture? Oh, and amid a global pandemic.

I see the weariness in your eyes, the frustration of bringing forth another evidence-based project or practice for which there’s no funding. The fear of not being heard. The fear that new and better practices or equipment will fall to the wayside yet again.

And yet, every day you return to the hospital to do your work – your extremely important work of improving short and long-term quality of life for fragile babies.

So today, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Read the quote below and summon the energy to move forward or give yourself permission to rest. And know that those of us in the arena with you appreciate your valiant effort and are right there to cheer you on.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt

There is vulnerability in the arena. Thankfully our tiny patients and their families model strength through vulnerability every single day.

They’re worth the fight. And so are you.