Friday, April 13, 2007

Dr. Atul Gawande: Five rules for physicians

The Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine Class of 2005 selected Dr. Atul Gawande to be their commencement speaker on June 9, 2005. Dr. Gawande is an HMS assistant professor of surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Below is the text of his commencement address, "Five Rules."

As successful as medicine is, it remains replete with uncertainties and failure. This is what makes it human, at times painful, and also so worthwhile.

You become a doctor today, and the choices you will make with your patients will be imperfect but nonetheless alter their lives. There will come a time when, because of that reality, it seems safest to do what everyone else is doing -- to be just another white-coated cog in the machine.

Don't let yourself be. Find something new to try, something to change. Count how often it succeeds and how often it doesn't. Write about it. Ask a patient or a colleague what they think about it.

See if you can keep the conversation going.

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