From the editor: We need each other

By James E. Mattson | 09/26/2016

Interprofessional appreciation is good for healthcare.

Image of music notes

I’ve never met Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein, Emil Gilels, Rudolf Serkin, Horacio Gutiérrez, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, or Van Cliburn, but I’ve met Franz Mohr, piano tuner to the world’s greatest concert pianists, including all of the above. He’s now retired, but when I met him, he was chief technician for piano makers Steinway & Sons and, for more than a quarter century, had traveled with Horowitz and others to concert venues around the world.
 
James E. MattsonI’d like to introduce you to Mohr via this 1986 “CBS Sunday Morning” video clip, when Charles Kuralt interviewed him in Moscow on the occasion of Horowitz’s historic return to the Soviet Union after an absence of more than 50 years. For five decades, Horowitz had said he would never go back to Russia, and when he changed his mind and decided to return, he did so on two conditions: 1) He would not go without his own piano, and 2) he would not go without Franz Mohr. He said, “I never go without Franz Mohr going wherever I go, to properly prepare the piano for me right there.”
 
Who is more critical to the success of a world-class piano performance, the concert pianist or the piano tuner? Silly question, I suppose. People don’t crowd Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, or any of the world’s other great concert halls to listen to a technician tune, regulate, and voice a concert grand piano, even if it is a Steinway. As Mohr, quoted in The New York Times, observed, “I play more at Carnegie Hall than anybody else, but I have no audience.”
 
Mohr’s audience was Horowitz. When the maestro was asked to perform an unscheduled second concert at the Berliner Philharmonie, he agreed to do so on one condition: “It all depends on if Franz comes back. If my tuner does not come back, there will not be a second concert.” So Mohr, who had just walked in the door of his Long Island, New York home after tuning Horowitz’s piano in Berlin, immediately headed back to Kennedy International Airport.   
 
Now, who is more critical to a positive healthcare outcome, the physician or the nurse? Another silly question. 
 
Christmas card from Franz MohrIn a recently published RNL article, Teddie Potter, PhD, RN, FAAN, tells of a conversation she had with a physician. Describing what physicians do, he said: “We diagnose and treat. What do nurses offer? Tell me in one or two words what you do.” Unable to answer so succinctly, Potter countered, “Imagine you have a very medically fragile patient in the hospital. You have correctly diagnosed the condition and ordered the appropriate medications. If nurses weren’t present, what would happen to your patient?” He responded, “He’d die.” Read the article to learn about a nursing paradigm Potter developed to help nurses be more effective at the interprofessional table.
 
One of the few cards I have kept is shaped like a Steinway piano and signed by Franz Mohr. I had edited and published an article he had written, and he wrote me to say, “I just want to thank you for doing a fine job … . The response is wonderful.” A piano tuner expressing appreciation to a writing tuner.
 
After writing a draft of this column—without this paragraph—I passed it by Assistant Editor Jane Palmer for proofreading and, as usual, she came back with a few suggestions for improvement, which I accepted. I am always grateful for her feedback because she makes me look better and helps me avoid mistakes.
 
We need each other. Thank you, Jane, for doing a fine job. 
 
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James E. Mattson is editor of Reflections on Nursing Leadership.
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