I realize that my naïve pre-medical view on medicine was laughably distorted. Real medicine, real doctoring, is not primarily about making friends out of strangers, and drawing out a patient's entire life-world within the course of a single meeting. At the end of the day, our objective is to be a good doctor first and to discern the details that matter in saving that person's life.
A few days ago, Google announced that it will donate $2 for every $1 people donate to nonprofits such as Médecins Sans Frontières and Save the Children in the fight against Ebola. As well-intentioned as this campaign might be, short-lived charity donations are not what is necessary to successfully eradicate the Ebola virus.
You haven't felt well in a really long time. You've sat in your fair share of waiting rooms, taken a million tests, and filled more prescriptions than your medicine cabinet can comfortably hold. But you still haven't gotten to the bottom of your chronic health issues. Why isn't anything helping Maybe it's because your doctor isn't asking you the right questions.
Many of my friends nodded politely a few weeks back when I told them that I had been elected to the Institute of Medicine. They knew from the tone of my voice that this election was a huge honor for me. But, despite my enthusiasm, the announcement was generally met by a few moments of awkward silence. Some of my friends admitted that they had no idea what the IOM actually does.
Recently, Dr. Peter Kramer published an intriguing, well-written, but poorly reasoned and potentially dangerous "thought piece" in the New York Times. His article, "Why Doctors Need Stories," contains several logical flaws and erroneous arguments, but the overarching concept is a classic "straw man" argument.
You don't have to look far in medical and scientific research today to feel the shifting sands and see signs of change. At times it seems we are simultaneously tilling the soil with a set of old yet tried and true tools while making new ones. Each year, as my organization prepares to bring together leaders in medical research, we confront all of this change head on.