Be the Change

So earlier today, after watching a video regarding an unnecessary surgery gone south, a few colleagues and I began discussing some of the factors that led to the unfortunate death of a young man at the hands of an apparently my-way-or-the-highway type neurosurgeon. Just to give some context, the neurosurgeon in the story was one who recently moved from another state and had a few pending cases against him from his old practice; he had moved to a small hospital that wished to start a neurosurgery program, with him spearheading it.

We discussed many of the problems, whether systems-based, human-based, or otherwise, that contributed to this malpractice. One (albeit tangential to the main discussion) thing that struck our group during our discussion was the apparent hypocrisy in some medical professionals regarding training and residents. Many a time, physicians will be admitted to a hospital, or will have children or other family members admitted, and will request (read: demand) to be seen by only attending physicians, not residents. And the thing is, I feel as though this mindset is damaging. Damaging to residents, to medical students, to patients, and to who knows whom else. This mindset perpetuates the hierarchy of medicine that so often leads to not speaking up, not questioning higher-ups, etc. that far too often leads to harm and injury to patients. This mindset makes residents and medical students feel insecure in their abilities. This mindset makes medical training not as adequate as it can be, as not enough training is provided.

M. Gandhi once said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” We are all in the medical field to help and heal people. If we wish for medicine to be safe and effective, we must be this change and say, “yes, I will be seen by the residents, the medical students, and the rest of the team. Yes, I would love to give them the opportunity to train and to learn.”

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