Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mask of Ideas

"We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught. He can be killed and forgotten. But four hundred years later an idea can still change the world. I've witnessed firsthand the power of ideas. I've seen people kill in the name of them; and die defending them."
I just watched V for Vendetta (finally) last night. It's definitely one of the best movies I've seen. I can't believe it's taken me this long to watch it! I love the premise of the movie. That an idea can be so powerful and consuming is certainly thought-provoking.

And so I ask: what was the last idea that you felt was worth fighting for? The last idea that was worth risking something for? Sacrificing something for?

While there are few ideas of mine that involve much risk, ideas have been consuming my time of late. Before this year, I never considered myself an advocate of much. There were few ideas that I felt passionate about to actively champion. But here I am, advocating for change and improvement. That ideas can be so enrapturing and form a mask is very real.

As I may have alluded to in the last few posts (or maybe not, I don't know), the idea of "diversity" has become my cause. Diversity competency has been slipping from the medical curriculum here, and that's not a good thing. It's such an easy thing to cut since with advances in medicine, there's more to learn and as they saying goes, "Something's gotta give." But as the patient population becomes more diverse, we must be keeping pace with being comfortable and competent to treat any patient that walks through our doors. As such, I've been working with the Office of Diversity, with the student Diversity Committee, with other students in the AMA (American Medical Association) to push for resolutions in the state medical society, and within my own student organizations.

And I never imagined I'd be doing what I am now, that this would be my idea and cause. I always thought that someone else with greater passion than I would take care of it. Clearly it hasn't been done, and so I step up.

But in that same quote above, follows the next line:
"But you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it or hold it. Ideas do not bleed, it cannot feel pain, and it does not love."
And this makes me wonder. What am I missing/sacrificing? That line rings true. I can't kiss, touch, or hold my ideas. They're intangible thoughts and only their actions can be become manifest, not them themselves. And sadly, I haven't experienced this thing known as "romantic love." I don't really know how to go about it. I run into walls and barriers every time I try. Have I, perhaps, diverted that energy towards an idea/cause bigger than myself instead? Who knows.

And coming back from school today, I thought to myself: what is the idea behind our white coats? What does it mean and symbolize? All I see is something that gets dirty incredibly easily but fortunately has a ton of utility (in its many pockets). The white coat doesn't make me better or smarter than anyone else, I am no different, it doesn't make me impervious to anything, so is there an idea behind there that I can rally behind?

Because you see, in pediatrics, few people (residents and beyond) wear their white coats and they often seem relieved to not have to . . .

Such existential questions behind this mask.


Biki said...

The last idea that I felt was worth fighting for, was my marriage, and I sacrificed being a whole person, not a mismatched person.

You are right, the fight for diversity has been waning, and I too am worried about it. Suddenly, its not cool to be different, either culturally or racial.

The idea behind the white coats, at least to me, is one of a champion. A white knight if you will. Some one that is willing to battle the forces of death for you. The white coat does make you different, not smarter, but talented in keeping others alive, and well. The coats may get dirty while you are working, but the dirty shows how hard work it is to heal the sick.

Back in the dark ages, all doctors wore the white coat. But around the 80's I noticed that unless it was in a hospital setting, no doctor wore them. Like nurses losing their caps, doctors took off their coat, and I miss both of them.

You are going to make one terrific doctor. How do i know this? Because you are one terrific guy.

fan of casey said...

I liked V for Vendetta, it certainly has surprising plot twists.

Uncutplus said...

Having been in the healthcare field, I always removed my white coat when working with children. Why? Because many of them learned negative connotations associated with the white coat.

Today in the hospital, one sees more scrubs worn by all professionals than anything else. And some of these glorified pajamas have been getting some style, but they are still not uniforms.

My own internist dresses casual in his office -- sometimes he wears a tie and at other times he doesn't. I find it reassuring that arrogance is not part of his demeanor, and that he is open and really listening to me.