This isn’t Adrienne and Tim’s book; it’s our team’s book. So, first and foremost, we want to thank our team:
Katie Neuendorf, the director of our Center of Excellence in Healthcare Communication (CEHC). She is a visionary. We have never met a more talented communication facilitator. She held steadfastly to the idea that one of the most important things to do is to tell people like it is. To AB, she has been a friend and a colleague that I am honored to know.
Amy Windover. We had grandiose ideas about how to go about working with communication skills in experienced clinicians, and Amy grounded us in competencies and intelligent design. Although she has a knack for creating beautiful and meaningful curricula, she has also been a driving force and dear friend.
Jessica Crow, our project manager who has been with us since the beginning. She makes better lists than anyone we know and keeps us all on task. More than that, she has kept it real and honest in tough times and has been loyal to the end.
Lacey Kay. She will probably be embarrassed that her name is even on this list and prefers to work behind the scenes, but we all know that we would be lost without her.
Our facilitator team. We could list all of you, but it would make more sense to spend the space talking about you. An unprecedented team of advanced care providers, surgeons, and medicine specialists. You all rallied around the concept of a realistic program founded in relationships, and the family we created surpassed all expectations. We are absolutely humbled by all of you.
We have been able to develop this work creatively and in an evidence-based fashion because of wonderful mentors and partners: Dr. Tony Back has led communication skills courses for years and was generous in sharing his experience and insight. Dr. Walter Baile, who has been one of the great mentors of TG’s career and a dear confidant to AB. Rebecca Walters brings value and compassion to the powerful work she does and touched us with her work. We also want to recognize the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare, an organization that encouraged us about the possibilities, including the notion of consistently treating each other with appreciation and empathy. Dr. Calvin Chou has been an amazing colleague and friend to us both.
Last, we want to thank our patients. It is a deep privilege to be invited into your lives. We have learned immensely about humanity and about life and death and love and meaning from you. At the most fundamental level, our work on communication is about you.
Rich Frankel. From the moment we met, I knew I had a kindred spirit and soul in you. Your mentorship has expanded well beyond a book or the work into a friendship that I will forever cherish. My goal, however, is to write a paper on something about which you haven’t already written.
Jim Merlino. You barreled down a path that no one had ever been down, and you encouraged me to do the same. The program flourished under your watch, and we accomplished what we did because you broke down all the barriers. For all your guts and titles, my favorite is simply friend.
Kelly Hancock. A dear friend and trusted partner. You have an eye for reality, a touching humility, and a passion for the front line—it’s a powerful combination for someone in your role as chief nursing officer. Thank you for the vents and peps and nudges and unwavering support.
Toby Cosgrove. In our one-on-one meetings, I developed a new appreciation for your commitment to Patients First. It’s not a tagline or fad for you—it is woven into your fabric. You articulate it at every turn and in your decisions for the organization. You supported communication skills training from the very beginning, spoke to the work on the world stage, and shared your own stories with our team. You told me once not to worry about nonsense and to drive the work, which is exactly what you’ve inspired me to do.
Linda McHugh. The best thing about my office was that it was right next to yours. I continue to be humbled by your candor, guidance, and enthusiasm for doing the right thing for people. And … the fastest book reader I ever met.
Michael Modic. When I first met you, we spoke about the meaning of this work, and you supported me before I even knew what I was doing. In the most interesting moments in my career and life, you have struck me with your leadership and insight. I owe so much to you.
Dan Bokar. A data genius and friend who brings humanism to the numbers and is deeply connected to the work in a way that inspires everyone around you, including me.
Carmen Kestranek. Your leadership and humility make the work fun, and your friendship is invaluable. At times, it was just you and me and … we made it through.
Office of Patient Experience team. Thanks for believing.
Kathy Carrick. My partner in crime and executive assistant. Without you, nothing is possible.
My mom, Regina. There are no words to thank you that would do you justice. You have survived more than most and taught me so much about resilience, as well as the need for play and laughter. You have witnessed my darkest moments and walked with me through them.
My brother, Alan. Thank you for the life lessons and love, especially the ones where you rightly told me, “What you’re doing isn’t working.” My stepfather, John, for always supporting me.
To my family, Peter, Grant, and Grayson, for infusing my days with craziness and love and snuggles. Your patience for these long nights spent writing is forever appreciated.
To my dear friends. You’ve seen me through it all. I thank you.
There are so many people to whom I owe thanks for enabling my work on communication skills training. Even before heading to medical school, my teachers and professors in English literature, particularly Charles Chatfield and Phil Weinstein, trained me to listen carefully and to consider the impact of words and phrases. The Columbia University School of Journalism taught me to think seriously about how hard it can be to convey complex information accurately to those who have low or intermediate literacy.
My career would have been much less successful without the strong early support of my medical school mentor, Dr. Tom Raffin, who took me under his wing and drew me a map. In residency, Dr. Marshall Wolf showed so much faith in me that I could only go along as if I believed in myself. More important, he modeled for me the kind of doctor I aspired to be. At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Phil Kantoff gave me the freedom and support to figure out what I wanted to do and to start doing it. As with Dr. Raffin, I’m not sure where I would be without his key early investment in my career.
I want to thank my institute and department chairs who have supported me and given me time for this work: Dr. Derek Raghavan, Dr. Brian Bolwell, Dr. Robert Dreicer, and Dr. Matt Kalaycio, as well as Dr. Jim Merlino and Dr. Adrienne Boissy. In the communication realm, I am in debt to early mentors: Dr. Raffin taught me about bioethics and doctor-patient communication. At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Susan Block encouraged me to take my interest in healthcare communication seriously, provided sage advice, and led me to Tony Back. I have been blessed to have as my partner in this work for the past seven years Dr. Adrienne Boissy. Her passion and the clarity of her vision have blazed our trail, and her friendship has made it much more fun.
Dr. Mikkael Sekeres has been a strong and loyal friend who has continuously encouraged me in my work on communication skills and has graciously edited essays I have written and inspired me with his own writing.
My parents have encouraged me with love and resources from the day I was born, and there is no way to put into words what I owe them. I’m hoping to pay it forward. My children, Maxine and Joseph, and my wife, Heather, have been extremely patient as I have spent nights and weekends and holidays working on communication skills projects and writing and editing this book. I am hugely grateful for their patience and their love. You three give my life its meaning.