On this week's Splendid Table Podcast (and radio show) Lynn interviewed Phoebe Damrosch, author of Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter (New York Times Notable Books) ">. Phoebe worked her way from a waiter to captain at Thomas Keller's Per Se restaurant. I recently posted our menus from a meal at Per Se in December and remarked that the service made the experience. I have not read Service Included yet, but my copy is on order. Listening to Damrosh speak about the training and execution of world class service was inspiring. It has made me wonder - what can we learn from that level of service?

In healthcare, my other passion, we often talk about having a compassionate presence. But if you have ever spent any time in a busy ER, either as a patient, family member or part of a care-giving team, you can relate to how challenging that environment often is. While it would be inappropriate to suggest that the work of a world class restaurant is on par with that of an emergency room, there are some important similarities. Both center around a busy, highly skilled core with support staff working both the 'front' and 'back' of the 'room'. It is a dance that when executed perfectly looks like a Viennese waltz (something Damrosch says was part of their training, how they learn to move around a room).

I am the first to admit that in a clinically demanding situation, I get out of the way ASAP. But during those other times - the elderly person walking in the door, the family member with a lost look wondering the halls, the young child being admitted - how can we in healthcare learn from waiters at Per Se? How can we become at once disarmingly personal and staunchly professional?

I am looking forward to reading Service Included as soon as it arrives. Will I share my thoughts here? It would be my pleasure!