Dr. John Grunow was one of the first pediatric gastroenterologists to join the ImproveCareNow Network - 15 years ago. He's been a dedicated improver ever since. Recently, John retired from active clinical practice but continues his work with ImproveCareNow. We are so grateful that he agreed to share his story in our very first clinician ignite talk - at the Fall 2021 Live Online Community Conference. Thank you, John.

Be inspired by John's #IgniteTalk 🔥 

A year ago, I retired from active clinical practice. Even though my career was over, someone wanted to sell me a product to promote a legacy. The product was not of great interest to me, but it did cause me to consider, “How is a legacy built?”.

The foundation of any legacy is relationship.

Relationships are formed with individual people and the organizations where they work and play together. Any mark we leave begins with the people and organizations with whom we choose to associate. Fifteen years ago, Dick Colletti and Peter Margolis invited me to join them in an adventure of trailblazing and collaboration. The scope and future of their quality improvement project was unknown but the concepts were intriguing. Since most of us had no prior knowledge of the processes involved, we learned together and worked out issues together and a strong camaraderie grew.

I realized I had found a home in ICN and a special connection with its people.

The challenge to growing a relationship comes with the level of commitment. Commitment shows up at many different levels. Diligently completing site level work demonstrates one level of commitment. Being willing to share failures, as well as successes, with fellow trailblazers is another level and it helps us to be humbly transparent with each other.

Giving of our own time and energy to encourage others along the way keeps us connected. I realized that as I invested more and more in the people of our network, their commitment to me was shaping me at the same time.

While I was growing in commitment to ICN, the connection with my IBD kids was growing, too. I found that I had new and exciting things to share with them. I wanted them to join me in this adventure of trailblazing and collaboration. As ICN experienced improved processes, I wanted my kids to experience improvements, too, through a better quality of life. The magnitude of this impact for them was captured best in this quote from our first ICN video, “If all the children with IBD in the US were a part of ICN there would be 10,000 more children in remission today.

As my commitment grew, so did my trust. I reflected that choosing to participate at a greater level in ICN was a measure of how much I trusted the people with whom I was working. As we worked side by side I learned to trust their opinion and intuition. I came to value the integrity and commitment they brought to their own IBD kids. I appreciated how they invested their time, energy and resources to make ICN a value for all of us.  It seemed that if I was unwilling to participate and do the work, my relationship with ICN was actually dead. But working with people I trusted was invigorating and breathed new life into me. It gave me renewed energy and a bright outlook and I eagerly looked forward to each of our next encounters.

Trusting so many different people in ICN over time has matured my respect for each of them. I can see how their individual characteristics are uniquely blended to build this amazing learning network. Even though I no longer actively care for children with IBD, I continue to participate with ICN because I respect its values and the people associated with it.

Through ICN I have learned valuable principles that are woven into the fabric of my everyday life. I recognize that we all teach and we all learn. I start out small and build on things as they show an improvement. I realize that when a team member is called to move to another job this just gives opportunity for someone else to have a positive impact in that role. I trust the work of the person next to me.

ICN and the people who are ICN have left their mark on me.

When I look around at ICN I see sharing of a common spirit with tenderness and compassion. I see a group who is like-minded, having the same love, being one of spirit and of mind. No one does anything out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, each one values the others above themselves. They are not looking just at their own interests but looking at the interests of others. In their relationships with one another they have the mindset of a servant.

Relationship, commitment, trust and respect. This is the legacy of ICN. This is what attracts me and keeps me connected. This is what encourages me to put in time and energy on behalf of someone else, realizing that my small effort, magnified by the efforts of those around me in ICN, will bring about for many a better quality of life.

Want more 🔥 Ignite? Read all Ignite Talks from patients, parents & clinicians.
Put in your time and energy on behalf of someone else. No effort is too small, because everything we do in ImproveCareNow is magnified by the efforts of thousands of other improvers, and together we bring about a better quality of life for many. Here are some actions you can take, or invite others to take:
  • Invite someone to save the date to attend our December 8 Virtual Community Conference (this free, web-based event is a great way to learn more about ICN from the patient & parent perspective)
  • Invite someone to stay #InTheLOOP with our stories on the blog - "Sharing stories and experiences is affirming and validating. Our stories reach others and they help, which is the most wonderful part of being involved with ImproveCareNow." - Quint (We will be posting 3 more #IgniteTalks - like John's - to the blog over the next couple weeks. By signing up, you'll be the first to know!)
  • Invite a patient (14+) to join the Patient Advisory Council - "Being part of the PAC helps me remember that I'm not alone in this journey." - Rhea 
  • Invite a parent or guardian of a child with IBD to join the Parent Working Group - "I believe I have helped other newly diagnosed families not feel as lost as I was. I believe I am making a difference in my community. And none of this would have happened if I hadn't joined the Parent Working Group." - Carrie
  • Invite someone to download our free, co-produced IBD resources - "Physical resources provide patients with actions that we can take toward bettering our quality of life, as well as our current and future care." - Quint
  • Invite someone to Join Our CIRCLE (connect with our welcoming & supportive community, and receive IBD resources, stories, and ICN updates & opportunities)

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