In a May 2016 publication by Consumer Reports, the front page reads, “What you don’t know about your doctor could hurt you. Botched surgeries, substance abuse, sexual misconduct – doctors on probation can still practice medicine and they don’t have to tell you. How to make a safe choice.”

Wow, that’s a lot to take in all at once and having been a burn patient who spent five years recovering physically from a nasty electrical accident and many more on a psychological level, I can tell you that magazine cover scares the daylights out of me.

It’s one thing to be a patient who is considerably healthy with substantive insurance and a researched choice in which doctor to select for a surgical procedure. It is quite another thing to be a mandatory patient, meaning a non-elective and often life-saving surgery is not your choice, and you may not be even conscious or fully able to make a wise decision about the physician that will be treating you.

In my case, thank goodness for a mother who was a registered nurse and had a real gut for trustworthy physicians on that night nearly twenty years ago when I was wheeled into the ER unconscious with fourth degree burns down to my skull. I was in no position to research the best surgeon, to consider my options, to check and see if the man or woman about to put a blade to my head was under the influence or a person of integrity, someone looking out for themselves, or trying desperately to uphold his or her end of the Hippocratic oath.

So how, in that vulnerable state, do we do a better job of ensuring the physicians we select into our hospitals and health systems are more than the medical degree that is signed and hanging on the wall?

I went to work for a human resources company years ago just thinking the job was a good fit and the company was strong. What I learned was my job was more than a job. More than a good fit and something I was good at. I learned that my experience as a patient, brought new meaning to the assessments and interviews we offer our health care clients every day.

Talent Plus’ scientific study of the very best clinical and non-clinical doctors and nurses, researchers and pharmacists gives us a lens on selecting the very best talent into an organization. Those with the talent for strong, informed decision making and a level of integrity that puts the patient first. We are finding ways to minimize malpractice, increase reimbursement scores, retain the very best clinicians and in the long run serve patients, whether or not they are able to speak for themselves in a better way every day.

I know this because I’ve seen our science in action, and because of my accident, I’m a patient first and always will be.


Kimberly Shirk is a Senior Marketing Strategist for Talent Plus, speaker and author of Remote Fears & Silver Linings, a personal story about an electrical accident that nearly took her life. Her passion is serving the patient experience movement in everything she does. She spends her days helping Talent Plus select the very best medical professionals to move the mission of patient experience forward.

Kimberly Shirk
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Senior Marketing Strategist

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