"Nobody teaches us to be a patient."
— Kathy Torpie, Psychologist, Author, International Health Care Speaker

A tragic head-on collision with a drunk driver changed Kathy Torpie's life forever.

At the beginning of her story, Kathy asks you to imagine waking up in intensive care, your eyes so swollen you can’t see, your jaw is wired shut and you can feel a machine forcing air through a tube in your throat.

“You can’t eat, you can’t drink and you can’t speak,” Torpie says in the video. You’re unsure exactly of what’s happened, and your only clues are what you can strain to hear in what is a busy ICU. If an alarm goes off, you're visited by a nurse who then disappears without a word. You may even hear doctors describing your case with one another at your bedside before quietly walking off.

“Throughout the day and night, all of my physical needs were attended to regularly as nurses came in to check the monitors and to check all the IV lines that fed and hydrated and medicated me,” Torpie said of her experience. “But my emotional needs remained hidden.”

A psychologist and author, Torpie’s multi-trauma accident started her on a long-term recovery path that required her to receive treatment from almost every level of health care service within a variety of health care settings. The pattern was always the same. “As a patient, you are defined and responded according to what’s wrong with you,” Torpie said. “That’s a big shift to make for anyone.”

Watch the full story below:


NHA built PersonAbility to help train students and employees in essential soft skills like communication and empathy, teamwork, professionalism, dependability and more, all of which are essential skills that Kathy Torpie describes as crucial in the healing process. This interactive, simulation-learning resource is used by thousands of CTE, health science, colleges and medical training programs to build the soft skills that can help drive career growth, strengthen care teams, and improve the patient experience.

Hear her story and how interpersonal skills like the ones taught with NHA's PersonAbility™ helped her recovery and inspired her to speak out about her experience.

Learn More

    • Click here to learn more about PersonAbility™.

    • Kathy Torpie’s book, “Losing Face; A Memoir of Lost Identity and Self Discovery” offers a perspective on health care that is systemic as well as personal. Her area of expertise is the patient experience and the role that interpersonal and communication skills play in the clinician/patient relationship and in relationships throughout the health care organization.



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