I spoke at the Mayo Clinic’s Transform 2011 conference on Monday. The main focus of my talk was “why are doctors so uncreative, or rather, anti-creative?” It’s a personal story through my life in the past 12 years since starting medical school. It’s startling, and at times depressing, but for the most part inspirational and finishes on a high note– I’ll never give up challenging the healthcare industry and pushing us forward to a much better future.

A gentleman in the audience asked me a question– do doctors have the right leadership qualities to innovate us out of our current healthcare mess? 

First, are we natural born leaders? I basically argue that the vast majority of doctors are followers. When we enter medical school, we immediately fall in line with the stifling hierarchy. If we do anything that bucks the system or question the status quo, we’re told to shut up. And when we’re done with residency, we’re just too tired and feel too entitled to do anything that goes against the norm. We want comfort, a good salary, a 40 hour work week, and some rest and relaxation. Being an entrepreneur and in innovator is just too much work and not enough pay to sustain our new kind of lifestyle. 

Second, do doctors have the leadership qualities to help us fix healthcare? I thought for a bit and realized that there are a few natural born physician leaders. If you study the history of the American healthcare industry, it becomes quite obvious that these physicians actually led us into this mess. They set up an industry that profits off sickness and, in the course of just a few generations, their leadership commands almost 20% of our economy. They were perfect leaders.

The real question is…can the few natural born leader doctors, lead us into a sustainable system that profits off health, not sickness? Can we use our leadership skills for good, not evil? And it’s definitely evil that we profit off sickness. But that is the question. We shall see…