Full Disclosure

I would probably make a terrible business negotiator.

Today, we participated in an exercise in which I was playing the part of a real estate executive hoping to make a lucrative business deal with another company. I wanted to buy a piece of land for commercial use, but the seller was under the impression I’d be using it for residential purposes, which would make less profit. Because of this, I could afford to buy the land for a much higher price than she ended up selling it to me for, and she was unaware I was set to make a much bigger profit.

My first inclination when this exercise began was to disclose to the seller that I was intending to use the land for commercial purposes and what my profits were projected to be. Then I wanted to offer to buy the land for a price reflecting the same amount of profit for her (i.e. $19 million over what she’d bought the land for, and $19 million under my projected profit). That way, we could both make an equal amount of money! But I understood that I would make more money if she never knew I was intending to convert the land commercially and that profits were the bottom line in this exercise. It was a real estate deal, not two children wanting to split a piece of cake EXACTLY down the middle. So I never told her about my real intentions.

Full disclosure is very important to me in what we do in medicine. I want to be part of a healthcare team which operates under the understanding that the patient is part of the team and, as a team member, deserves to know what we know. And for that matter, patients deserve to know information in a timely manner. We talked a lot today about outcomes and resolutions of unanticipated events being disclosed to patients immediately, without delay. I believe the same goes for routine test results, diagnoses, and medical decision making, even if these things are completely normal. I’ve been on the patient side of a life-altering diagnosis, and I know the feelings of abandonment, fear, and uncertainty when the medical team doesn’t say much about it. Keeping patients in the loop, even when things are going well and test results are normal, is a relatively small gesture that will maintain the patients health, both psychological and physical (not to mention my own psychological health!).

I feel relieved that my career will be about healing others as part of an honest healthcare team and not about profit. My inclination to show all my cards and be inclusive will probably not get me hired at the real estate company I led during our exercise today.

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