“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’ar so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon
Saint Crispen’s Day.”
- William Shakespear’s “HENRY V”
In Shakespear’s “HENRY V”, just before the Battle of Agincourt (1415), King Henry’s remaining army, weaken and nearly decimated by battle and dysentery, is trapped by an overwhelming French Army that has blocked the only escape route to England. The French knights were heavily armoured and highly skilled, the defeat of the English Army was theirs. It was at this lowest point that King Henry V gave a speech to the remaining men that is now ever known as the St. Crispen’s Day speech. The final lines have become better known as “The Band of Brothers” speech. King Henry’s V speech rallied the English Army to victory!
You are a “band of brothers and sisters” just as much as those men were centuries ago. Like them, united, you face a formidable foe, one that appears overwhelming and where victory is uncertain. That foe is the on-going transformation of health care with all its associated change and uncertainty. There will be other foes as well, unknown now but sure to come.
The safety and well-being of our patients have never been more important or challenging than they are today. Patients are older, sicker, more complicated yet technology has advanced to the point that there is much more that can be done for them. The sacrifices required of you as well have never been greater - the long hours, night calls, emergency surgeries, the critically ill patient, the dying patient, the demanding families, the never- ending administrative/EMR expectations….It would be so easy to become overwhelmed and simply give up just as it would have been for those soldiers at Agincourt. Yet, you continue to make a difference in the lives of others; you are living a life that counts! Isn’t that how we all want to be remembered – that we lived just such a life, while too many others will “… think themselves “accurs’d“, that they cannot say the same?
Thank you as always for what you do!
Andy Lamb, MD