Saturday, January 12, 2013

The New Cognitive Dissonance of Medicine

The 30-something teacher stood before a room of leaders, neatly dressed, wearing black-rimmed hipster glasses, articulate, poised.  He never stuttered, his words precise.  His expertise was educating big rooms of leaders - it was all he knew: summa cum laude, three majors, and impeccable youthful credentials for a corporate consultant.  Meeting rooms and corporate board rooms were his theater and comfort zone,  flip charts and Powerpoint graphics his instruments.

Before him sat two sets of leaders - each neatly assembled, restless.  One group was unaccustomed to fluorescent light, snack tables, and colored markers.  Instead, their productivity comfort zones were in swabbing the back of throats or reaching within the abdomen.  For the other group of leaders, productivity was defined by human resources, spreadsheets, e-mails, agendas, meetings, and time cards.

It was a strange juxtaposition of leaders, each seated side-by-side now, awkwardly struggling with the cognitive dissonance engendered by learning from a babe as they were forced to embrace change.  A new world order thrust upon them now, a world where of ideals of William Osler had irreversibly shifted to the ideals of Walmart, FedEx, UPS, and The Cheesecake Factory.

"Stakeholders." "Customer service." "Product lines." "Efficiency," "Service values."

Bracing for impact.

They sat quietly absorbing it all with knots in their stomachs realizing that these corporate intangibles are now what matter.   Challenging decisions are to be made simple by nothing more than numbers, spreadsheets, and scoring thresholds.  Each leader there had an eerie sense of being comforted by the facade of feeling included, yet quietly realizing just how outside the mainstream they were.  The good girls and boys of medicine, so easily fooled.

Then a page pierced the air: "Please call the ER x 1155 Re: consult: New-onset atrial fibrillation."

A reality that was anything but simple, anything but linear.

Lead, dear doctor, lead.



Unknown said...

I hate comments that simply say, "Great Post." But I gotta say, great post!

I can identify with each of the leaders at some level. Some more than others, of course.

But the best part of the post for me was the call to action.


Anonymous said...

Here is how it will go down. They will treat you like children for a little while - constantly reassuring by acknowledging your expertise and awesomeness, and telling you that they want your opinion, etc. Then decision making will be taken away, and if you disagree you will be shown the door.


Anonymous said...

Don't think they will show too many the door as that leaves us with fewer MDs. But what might happen is
that fewer and fewer of our brightest and best will select medicine. After all, over 47% of younger doctors indicated they would NOT go into medicine if they could rewind their lives. What a mess we are in.. a real mess.
and yes, GREAT POST, as usual