Updated: Sep 19, 2020
The practice of medicine has dedicated itself to efficiency.
I believe in evidence based medicine. I attempt to practice it as best I can. When I refer to efficiency, I am not talking about evidence based medicine. I am talking about all the processes and procedures that predetermine how we will interact with our patients. It is great for the bottom line but it is a curiosity killer.
In the September-October 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review they discuss new research that shows curiosity is a vital component of an organizations performance.
In her research, Francesca Gino found several benefits for organizations that are curious. She found that curious organizations have more innovation, make less decision-making errors, reduced team conflict and improved team performance. Sounds pretty amazing right? Sounds like everything medicine needs in this day in age.
Is a prescription for curiosity the same as a prescription for exercise? We know it is right, we know it works, but "doc" it sure feels like an upstream battle.
I want to know my patients better.
I want to find the true cause of their ailment.
I want to learn what is putting them into their personal doom loop.
This only takes a little curiosity...
What happened to my curiosity? EFFICIENCY!
I run a primary care clinic.
Some days it is sniffles and boo boo's; others it is SVT and "I want my pain meds!"
In order to get through the day, my team has to be efficient.
Check in, CC, vitals, HPI, PE and then make and execute a plan.
Rinse and repeat.
Who has time for anything extra?
My kids gymnastics center. Pretty awesome, right? What if this was the practice of medicine? As medical students, we would have been curious and attempted all the bars, rings, and trampolines. As attendings, do we just see a bunch of obstacles to navigate as smoothly and quickly as possible?
“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” - Albert Einstein
The pursuit of efficiency has turned my clinic day from a curious adventure to a checklist riddled bore. I do not have time to wander from my schedule. I do not have time to explore with my patients. I have to click, click, and click. That is how I feel.
How can we get our curiosity back?
Returning to the above article, of the five ways to improve curiosity one struck me as practical for physicians and implementable today.
Have "Why?" "What if...?" and "How might we...?" days.
Sounds simple. It is.
Just today, I was struck by how much resistance I met with just a few "why?" and "what if?" questions. I got frustrated. I failed to recognize that resistance as a lack of curiosity within the organization and not a problem at the individual level.
Maybe if I was more curious on a regular basis and openly accepted it around me those questions would be meet with answers.
And as our curiosity grows, maybe, we will find amazing answers to the click, click problems we all face.
Live your mission.