The trimester is coming to a close, and I can honestly say it's
flown by. We're all scrambling to meet deadlines in the clinic:
this many of this, that many of that. It hardly seems that about 12
weeks ago we were terrified we'd be horrible at this. Truth be
told, I didn't think anything about deadlines and numbers and
paperwork (OK, well I did think about paperwork a little bit).
That's probably why I'm scrambling now.
The last couple of weeks have been discussions about who is
transitioning to the other clinic, and some talks about where we'll
end up. Half of our crew is moving to the other clinic. It's
unlikely that I'll see them very often. Perhaps we'll have seminars
or training sessions of some sort, or get together outside of
school (although we don't do that now). But in a few weeks, there
will be another big transition for all of us. Some of us have been
together, nearly every day, for about 3 years. This will be
something really new.
Newness. It reminds me of my theory about Maslow's Hierarchy
from last week. Incidentally, I've been working some more on that,
but I'll spare you all the details. I had the pleasure to discuss
it with two of my fellow interns today, the concept of new ideas.
We were talking about my theory, and about other theories -- things
in medicine and science that seem to have been left behind. We were
discussing the idea that there are no new ideas.
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Mark Twain said:
"There is no such thing as a new
idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put
them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and
they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and
making new combinations indefinitely, but they are the same old
pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the
I grew up not far from good ol' Mark Twain's stomping grounds,
but between you and me, his writing always made me crazy. No matter
how much I tried, I couldn't understand the dialect he wrote. I'm
not sure that I agree with Mark; it seems we're discovering new
things all the time. From god particles to medicines, we strive and
learn how to change, adapt, and understand the world around us.
If the last 12 weeks in the clinic have taught me anything, it's
that we have no standard approach to treating anything. We have to
be willing to come up with new ideas, or at the very least, new
applications for old ideas. For every patient that comes in, even
if they have the "same" diagnosis, what works for each one of them
is likely to be something completely different.
I'm fairly certain that our discussion today came to the
conclusion that there has to be something new. There has to be a
pursuit of Science that crosses boundaries into new territories,
that bypasses the need for a randomized controlled trial of
everything, and simply embraces discovery for the sake of
discovery, and implementation for the benefit of the whole. Perhaps
we're all idealists. I see no problem with that. Being idealistic
just promotes my love of the field and my hope for making a
Neil deGrasse Tyson, in his series "Cosmos" said:
"To make this journey, we'll
need imagination, but imagination alone is not enough because the
reality of nature is far more wondrous than anything we can
OK, Neil. I'll take that one to heart. The greatest theories
come from crazy idealists.
I wish you all many great new discoveries. May your kaleidoscope
always look just a little bit different.