The best and worst thing about working with students is that they’re always asking uncomfortable questions about why things are the way they are. Early in my academic career, I had a student who wanted to know why some patients in my clinic had an easy time getting their diabetes under control, while others struggled mightily. Were some of our doctors just worse than others?
A few years ago I was approaching a major birthday and doing the kind of thinking one does at those moments in life. I’d had success in my role at Harvard and had a clear path to more of it. I loved taking care of patients and felt I’d finally reached the point of being a pretty darn good doctor. Yet I had a gnawing sense that continuing on my current path would leave me feeling that I could have done more to bring about the revolution in health care quality, safety and cost we urgently need in the U.S. and around the world.