Wednesday, February 26, 2014


A man approached Socrates one day to share some gossip. The wise philosopher asked, 'First, are you certain it's true? Second, is it something good? Third, is it something useful?' When the man said, 'Not really,' Socrates replied, 'Well, if it's not true, good or useful, why talk about it?' Gossip can feel like a form of intimacy, but it's actually a false bond motivated by the desire to diminish another person and make yourself look good.

There's WAY too much gossip in the hospital. Much is not useful. But some can be. How do we know?

The following questions can help you decide if it's useful talk:

Are you telling someone who can do something about the problem by helping, or offering discipline or correction?

Are you talking to someone wise enough to help you process your feelings and courageous enough to make you do the right thing by confronting the other person, or confessing where you're at fault?

Is this news approved for sharing?

Are you breaking a confidence, and if so, is it strictly because the person is endangering someone's life, including their own?

Are you willing to divulge your source so it can be checked?

When you say this, does it break your heart?

Would you be comfortable if someone was saying this about you?


Friday, February 7, 2014

Bad Behavior

Ilana Yurkiewjcz, a Harvard third-year medical student, writes eloquently about something that has bothered me in medical education for years... Bullying.

She writes about a minority of staff and clinicians across all ranks of staff who are profoundly impactful and are outright bullies.

What is interested me most is her description of those subtle "micro aggressions", subtle putdowns, shaming interactions, sarcasm, passive-aggressive and frankly bad behavior.

There was something very relieving with reading her article. It read like a summary of my resume. Beyond her frank observations is the course reality to what may be wrong, at least in part, with the educational system of physicians and other healthcare clinicians today. Sometimes I'm so ashamed to be associated with this world.