Educating the Dr. Welbys of tomorrow

In the 1960s, the quintessential doctor show featured Marcus Welby, MD: a primary care physician who made house calls, didn’t charge patients who couldn’t afford it, maybe even delivered a calf on the side of the road — all before performing difficult surgery on a young patient.

Fast forward to 2012, and we are treated to non-stop House, the drug-addicted, narcissistic (but brilliant) 21st century physician.

How did we physicians go from saints to sinners so quickly in the public’s eye? Solving that question has driven my research for the last ten years. Why do physicians resist change rather than lead transformation? How would we need to change the way we select and educate physicians to turn us back from Dr. Houses to Dr. Welbys?

As we now train physicians, we draw them into a cult. That cult is centered around four biases—competitive, autonomous, hierarchical and non-creative. A young medical student often begins his or her studies as an idealistic, optimistic overachiever, but by the end of the process, he or she often has lost those endearing qualities.

Read the rest of my guest post on the AthenaHealth Leadership Forum here.