In the span of any individual physician’s lifetime, medicine has been a relatively static field. Things changed so slowly that physicians had one consistent reality throughout most of our career. Medical progress was marked by generations. What we did in medical school resembled what we did on the day we retired. There was one model to guide where we went and what we did when we got there.
It was the way things had always been.
But now medicine is dynamic. Everything from diagnostics to therapeutics and information flow are in a state of permanent transition. Medical students can barely conceptualize what they’ll be doing a decade from now. Serious change is happening by the month, not the generation. It’s medicine at the speed of now.
When Eric Topol addressed the Baylor College of Medicine faculty in May 2012 before his commencement address, someone asked him what characteristic would best describe the model medical school candidate for the future.
His answer: flexibility.
The static/dynamic shift is something Industrial Age trained doctors are having a hard time with now. But I suspect it will be old hat for this generation of medical students.
The norm of adapting to change will be, in the words of David Byrne, ‘same as it ever was.’
Image via Photo by Werner Du plessis modified