Friday, April 12, 2013

Family Medicine Activist: Tension, Teamwork and Followership

#HAWMC Day 12

Samuel Huntington referred to West Point as "A bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon".  It was organized and focused on "Duty, Honor, Country"  The Corps of Cadets was committed to service, leadership and graduation.  I graduated from West Point in 1968.

How does my West Point background support my practice of Family Medicine?

1.  Tension.  There was a lot at West Point.  There is a lot in the lives of the patients I serve.  Differentiating creative from destructive Tension is the challenge.  West Point helped me to clarify how to live with Tension, when to avoid it and when to seek it.  Helping patients to clarify their health and life issues often requires a bit of creative tension, which I may generate to allow faster movement toward better insight.  They may also deliver intentional Tension to our interaction to move things ahead.  What do you like about Tension?

2.  Teamwork.  "Cooperate and graduate" was often heard at West Point.  We were continuously mutually interdependent with our squadmates, roommates and classmates.  Share and care.  Those concepts fit well with patient care, too. How do we help each other to "make it"?

3.  Followership.  OK, there is a lot about leadership at West Point, but we learned to follow first.  It was priceless.  I usually follow the lead of patients and others when indicated.  It's fun to learn about people, their values and dreams.  Sometimes, following might become dangerous, as in going along with parts of the health care non-system that seem to want to bankrupt America and expect others to go along with them.

Those are a few thoughts I have when reflecting on how my Cadet days have fed my Family Physician days.  More later

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