Ducks in a Row: Health Care Reimagined
Bird Communications; 2022
Reviewed by Johny Van Aerde, MD, PhD
The ugly duckling of the health care system is the lack of relationship-centred care. In Ducks in a Row: Health Care Reimagined, Sue Robins masterfully exposes the mental models and assumptions in our health care system, demonstrates the need to create safe spaces, and shares how to hold truly engaging conversations among staff, patients, and families in the planning of care. Throughout the book, there are very practical suggestions for improvement. Acting on even one improvement adds a duck to your row, one duck at a time.
The book is split into three sections. Power to the People examines the power imbalances inherent in health care settings. Humanity in Health Care for All expresses hope by sharing stories and best practices for health professionals to engage with patients and families. Health Care Reimagined is the ideas section, putting forth many ducks. It outlines practical tips and stories about creating people-friendly health spaces and engaging patients and families at the organizational level — on councils, as teachers, as advisors, and in research.
Robins’ rich experiences as a parent, cancer survivor, volunteer, health care worker, health activist, and communication expert inform her perspectives. Her work as a family engagement specialist in two children’s hospitals adds to her understanding of health care systems. She shows how to bring together the relational needs of patients and families with the medical expertise of health care workers in ways that enhance care.
This book is about our health care system and our humanity as Canadians. Because each of us connects with the health care system at some point(s), we would all do well to take the advice offered in Ducks in a Row.
Johny Van Aerde, MD, PhD, FRCPC, is the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Physician Leadership and executive medical director of the Canadian Society of Physician Leaders.