“What does it take to be good at something in which failure is so easy, so effortless?”
This is the question posed by Atul Gawande in his latest book, “Better – a surgeon’s notes on performance”.
It may make an excellent gift for your fellow collaborators!
Atul is a Boston surgeon, a professor at the Harvard Medical School, and a staff writer for the New Yorker. He is a fascinating story teller.
He explores the theme of improvement by recounting stories about his patients, his practice, and his visits to other places where he seeks ‘positive deviance’.
Undoubtably, he would feel at home at a Collaborative Learning Workshop!
What is the challenge of medicine? He writes:
“This is a book about performance in medicine. As a doctor, you go into this work thinking it is all a matter of canny diagnosis, technical prowess, and some ability to empathise with people. But it is not, you soon find out. In medicine, as in any profession, we must grapple with systems, resources, circumstances, people – and our own shortcomings, as well. We face obstacles of seemingly unending variety. Yet somehow, we must advance, we must refine, we must improve. How we have and how we do is my subject here.”
Where should we focus to improve outcomes for our patients?
“The scientific effort to improve performance in medicine – an effort that at present gets only a miniscule portion of scientific budgets – can arguably save more lives in the next decade than bench science, more lives than research on the genome, stem cell therapy, cancer vaccines, and all the other laboratory work we hear about in the news. The stakes could not be higher”
“Arriving at meaningful solutions is an inevitably slow and difficult process. Nonetheless, what I saw was: better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try”.
His final suggestion for a life in medicine – change.
“So find something new to try, something to change. Count how often you succeed and how often you fail. Write about it. Ask people what they think. See if you can keep the conversation going.”
“Better – a surgeon’s notes on performance” by Atul Gawande is published in Australia by Profile Books.