Monday, July 2, 2012

Timing is Everything - Lessons From Caddyshack

Reading the Allen’s story, I am reminded of many of the important lessons I learned during my medical education.

Some lessons I learned as a student, some as a resident, but one lesson I learned from Caddyshack. That’s right. Caddyshack.

Now, I realize that many women in my life collectively roll their eyes when I start quoting movies with my friends. It’s a guy thing. We can’t help it. The quotes make us laugh. They give us a bond. And yes, they can make us annoying…..

“Spalding, get your foot off the boat.”

“Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? Oh, it looks good on you though.”

But sometimes there is great wisdom in the stupidity, and that is where I learned an important medical lesson….

“We're about to tee off now so call the hospital and move my appointment with Mrs. Bellows back 90 minutes...Just snake a tube down her nose and I'll be four or five hours”
said Dr. Beeper.

Caddyshack Lesson from Dr. Beeper: Don’t be like Dr. Beeper. Take the time to do things right.


Flash forward now to 2002. The setting is a tour of a hospital that is recruiting doctors to train in the field of Reproductive Endocrinology. If this were a movie, I’d be the guy on the tour who was not impressed. In fact, I was disgusted. I told myself, these are people I will never work with. I was interviewing for fellowship training in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

I was with several other applicants taking a tour of a very well respected program when one of us asked the doctor leading the tour about doing fertility procedures on the weekends. The doctor told us, seemingly proudly, that they didn’t do much on weekends. He said they could always tweak a woman’s treatment to delay ovulation or to do it a little earlier than usual so that weekend treatments could be avoided.

The tour went on, but there was at least one less applicant for fellowship at that program. I don’t know if my face showed it, but I burned on the inside hearing this. Having been a fertility patient, it was very disappointing to hear a fertility doctor say that he was willing to sacrifice a patient’s chances of success just to make his life easier.

It is a common source of amazement to my friends and to patients that we see patients on weekends and even most holidays if they are bleeding in pregnancy, or in the middle of treatment cycles. But if you don’t do that, you may be decreasing a patient’s chance of success. It’s good to know that people appreciate the steps we take to maximize their chances of success. It is almost always interpreted as an act of kindness. Which I guess it is.

As the Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Big Hitter, the Lama.