Making Meaning in Medicine

“By offering your reflections to an audience, even a small one, you make yourself part of a larger world. An audience is a community. The published word is a declaration of membership in that community and also of a willingness to contribute something meaningful to it……See if you can keep the conversation going.”

These lines are taken from Atul Gawande’s latest book better. In the afterword, he makes five suggestions for becoming a positive deviant. The statements above come from his explanation of suggestion #4. The other suggestions are as follows:

#1 – Ask an unscripted question
#2 – Don’t complain
#3 – Count something
#4 – Write something
#5 – Change

He explains in the book how these tenets, if followed, will make the practice of medicine more enjoyable, stimulating, and fresh, while also having the (unanticipated) consequence of providing meaningful change to the work environment and the practitioner herself.

Taking Dr. Gawande’s recipe for a meaningful medical life to heart, I decided to blog about the work we do at the Institute of Medicine and Humanities (IMH) here in Missoula. This is an open invitation to join the discussion, post comments, and help make us part of the larger world of ideas.

I welcome your thoughts. Let’s see if we can “keep the conversation going.”


About imh4msla

Dr Schlesinger is an adult and pediatric rheumatologist in Missoula. She was an IMH board member for a few years before assuming the director position in January 2007 when Dr Herbert Swick retired. As IMH director, she promotes collaborative models of care within the hospital, and explores new approaches to teaching the collaborative model to health careers students at the University of Montana. Dr Schlesinger is the track director for the WWAMI program, helping medical students from the University of Washington School of Medicine learn clinical medicine in Missoula.
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