Dr Atul Gawande

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rank3Armed with a resume worthy of a US Presidential candidate (Two Masters from Harvard and a Rhodes Scholarship!), this Indian-American surgeon is the face of change in the medical fraternity. A regular contributor for New Yorker magazine, his essay titled “The Cost Conundrum” made a deep impact on our previously utopian opinion of the American healthcare system. (As it did on President Obama, who handed it to a group of senators and established that “This is what we need to fix”)

One can go out on the street and ask people at random to comment on the healthcare system of the USA and easily expect a positive response from 90% of the people, and even some expressions of admiration and awe. America, the birthplace of a great deal of the medical knowledge we possess today (Or as comedian Sacha Baron Cohen commented in atulhis 2012 movie The Dictator – “the birthplace of AIDS”), was brought to its knees by the recent economic crisis. Gawande brings out an example of this in the town of McAllen, Texas (Second highest per-capita healthcare expenditure) and concludes the thought provoking article with an encompassing thought – “Dramatic improvements and savings will take at least a decade. But a choice must be made. Whom do we want in charge of managing the full complexity of medical care?”

He is also well known for his books (Complications, Better, and The Checklist Manifesto) which provide an essential insight into developing the soft skills of being a doctor. (Plus frankly, they’re a lot more fun to read than Harrison’s, and have bigger font.) His literary efforts to increase the efficiency of surgeons using simple measures are quite effective, and he was named the Director of the WHO’s campaign to reduce surgical deaths.

To quote his book “The Checklist Manifesto” – “Discipline is hard – harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can’t even keep from snacking between meals. We are not built for discipline. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at.” We cannot possibly ignore the brilliance of this award winning endocrine surgeon in the field of surgical humanity.

PS: To know more about the flaws of the US healthcare system, Michael Moore’s documentary “Sicko” is a must watch. He even takes a group of people injured during 9/11 to seek healthcare in Guantanamo Bay.

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