Why Don’t We Develop Talent In Surgery?


By:  The Generation Y Surgeon (@GenYSurgeon)

What We Should Do Versus What Happens Now

When it comes to raw talent, Medicine has plenty.  However, we do a poor job of cultivating the skills of the individuals who make up this profession.  Innovation is about looking from an alternative viewpoint.  It’s about finding the answer to questions others don’t realize exist, and often involves finding what no one else sees.  Innovation, after all, is evolution and we must evolve or die.  Why then don’t we make better use of the talent we already have to grow our profession and innovate our way out of our current issues?  We should encourage these doctors to lead and innovate…but Medicine does the opposite.

They Come In Diverse And They Go Out Looking The Same

Medical schools covet diversity.  Medstudents enter with varied degrees ranging from history to engineering, and bring life experiences from business, education, farming, and teaching.  Each individual has unique motivations.  Throughout the early years of training, however, they are molded into a singular species and then neatly divided into groups: surgery, medicine, subspecialty, research.  Somehow we have developed a culture that encourages students to strive for “resume builders” instead of encouraging creative paths and ideas.  Medical students all look much the same when they finally apply to residency programs.  Is that what we want?

Take research for example.  Many (maybe most) medical students do research during their schooling.  Why?  Mostly because it’s what you need to do to get a residency.  But why not encourage the engineers to build a device?  Patents are just as impressive as papers.  Students with understandings of statistics or interest in management or business could be performing quality improvement projects.  Isn’t that the ultimate research?  Yet instead of pursuing creative ventures, most students devote their nearly nonexistent free time to a research project that they care very little about because it will help them get a good residency.

Fresh Eyes Don’t Last Long And Should Be Used While They Can

I’m not saying that research isn’t good for students.  Quite the opposite for a student who is truly interested in academics and finds genuine fulfillment in the process.  For them, research is fantastic.  It’s the students who don’t love research that I’m talking about.  Some of these are the fresh voices and creative minds that we should be looking to for innovative ideas!  Medical students are special because they are still naive to the culture of medicine and they see it for what it is.  Fresh eyes don’t last long and should be leveraged for what they bring.  It doesn’t take long for the system to gobble you up and change how you see the world, so let’s make the most of their viewpoints!  We should think carefully about how we train medical students.  Let’s mold them into the kinds of physicians we ourselves want to be–creative, independent and forward thinking.

Next Time You Hear Something Unusual From A Medstudent, Entertain The Idea

Doctors find it uncomfortable to think outside the box sometimes, and our experiences can train us to be rigid in our thinking.  But next time a student or colleague offers an idea that seems a little wild, entertain it and encourage them.  Some of those ideas may become the way of the future…