It was a little after 4:00 a.m. as I left my driveway. Pitch black and raining.
But from the moment I merged onto U.S. 101 heading south into Los Angeles to give a grand rounds presentation, there were other cars on the road. By 5:30 a.m., as I approached the major arteries of the L.A. freeway system, the road was crowded.
I began to play the imagination game: Where was everyone going?
Many, I suppose, were headed to factory jobs that started at 6:00 or even 7:00. The same drive in, day after day. The same start, middle and end of work. The same drive home.
That morning, as I gave my lecture, I commented on the experience to the audience, medical residents and attending staff. I questioned them as as a group, as I question you now:
It could be that you provide emergency medicine, or anesthesiology, or pathology, or radiology services, or that you are an office practice physician in a group. But how many of you are going to a factory, too, just a factory of a different kind? How may of you have the same factory worker mentality? The mentality of “I’ll work for what they give me” — sure the “reward” is quantitatively different but the situation is qualitatively the same. The mentality of the same old same old, of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
To break free requires a change in mentality. As they say, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.