Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Medical Liability or Asset?

It has been a few months since I last wrote, which may tell you something about the mid year schedule of a medical student. With snow days, postponed exams, and the completion of the ischioanal fossa in gross lab, I am at my breaking point, but maybe that is overly dramatic.

There has been several national disasters recently. First the devastating earthquake to Haiti an already devastated country and then the worst earthquake to hit Chili in recent history. I had the good fortune of being able to visit haiti when I was in high school. I remember thinking two things, "Where did all the trees go?" and "Where can I buy a machete?" Now that I have matured slightly and seen a more small parts of the world, my eyes have begun to defog, and I am more able to learn from past experiences that were previously forgotten. These two recent events have me thinking about a new question posed to my class by a physician of wilderness medicine, "Will you be a medical asset or a Liability?"

When people are sent into disaster zones initially it is search and rescue effort and basic medical help. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other medical professionals are some of the first to enter into the scene. Yesterday, at a lunch talk about wilderness medicine this question was proposed, "Will you be a medical asset or a hinderance?" I pondered this for a while. What classifies a physician or even a person as an asset. The first thing I though of was humility.

My dad constantly told me, "Approach others with humility and you will go far." Hearing this as a teenager, I never believed him. To my teenage self I knew for a fact that putting yourself behind others is no way to win at anything. I think the words of Green Day's song 'Nice Guys Finish Last' echoed a little louder in my head than my dad's words. But on the field if there is a truck that needs unloading or dishes that need to be cleaned, does it matter that you are a pediatric vascular surgeon specializing in neurovascular trauma? NO!

Being a medical asset has little to do with how well I preform on my next biochemistry test or even my class rank, but to remember the task at hand, understand what the team is working towards, and by whatever means necessary achieve the common objective.