I’m a fan of Atul Gawande’s writing from the New Yorker and have posted a link to an earlier article here. He is surgeon who also writes about how changes occur in medical culture.
This post is about why good ideas take off and why they don’t. He uses one case study of trying to make improvements to the medical system for newborns and their mothers in the developing world. This would include keeping babies from dying of hypothermia by encouraging skin-to-skin contact with their mothers.
Bottom line: Good ideas take hold from human beings talking to each other. As well, the approach between teacher and student matters for the message to stick in the long haul. As you see in this piece, the early days of a mentor relationship may be rocky, especially when trying to impart information to an already burdened person.
But if you hang in there and have respectful exchanges, the to and fro of changing behaviour begins to take place – as one mentored nurse says near the end of the piece, she initially didn’t listen to the mentor but in the end, she started looking forward to her visits:
“It wasn’t like talking to someone who was trying to find mistakes,” she said. “It was like talking to a friend.”