On Creativity

June 8, 2010/0/0
Home / Blog / Geekdom / On Creativity

One of the great joys I derive from practicing medicine is the ability to be creative in terms of figuring out solutions for my patients. There are myriad different ways of approaching the multiple issues affecting hospitalized patients. And while we have evidence based standards of care which should be held with the highest regard, unfortunately, we simply don’t have the benefit of randomized controlled trials for each and every issue in medicine. Antiplatelet agents for patients with myocardial infarction – easy! Antiplatelet agents in a patient with a history of GI bleed that because of the bleed, developed myocardial ischemia? Uhhh, less clear. Agreed, this is where specialists and the like come in, bringing a wealth of experiential knowledge to the table, however unless they happen to be RO1 researchers, they’re often looking at the same data that generalists are for particular conundrums in medicine.

The physicians that I have looked up to have consistently been the ones to demonstrate intellectual adaptation, flexibility and improvisation when tackling problems, while adhering to sound clinical evidence and maintaining a good knowledgebase. There’s the rub. Creativity and smarts are traits that can sometimes be seen as mutually exclusive – but combining the two is something that Col. Quaritch from the film Avatar would describe as ‘A Potent Mix’. And yet, in the same way clinical decision-making, and keeping one’s self up to date with current standards of care requires dedication and commitment, I would like to contend that being creative, or being creative in an *effective* way, requires similar commitment. From plastic surgeons that happen to be amazing at playing donkey kong, to scientists that happen to be creative writers – examples abound of individuals that regularly access both hemispheres of their brain and enjoy success as a result. The Healing Blade begun as a began as a napkin idea and rapidly evolved into an exciting little project, but little did I realize that it would also turn into my Unofficial Research Fellowship in Infectious Disease and Game Design. A fellowship that I’m pretty sure didn’t exist before the Blade.