President's Perspective December 2011
By Glenn M. Weinraub, DPM, FACFAS, President
One of the basic principles of Darwinism is that populations evolve, individuals do not. The goal of any species is to reach the equivalent of the evolutionary winners podium. It would seem this should hold true for organizational and professional evolution as well. This belief or attitude that a select group of people with specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes — are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities or wisdom would render them especially fit to lead the climb up that evolutionary ladder.
Is it wrong to want to be a winner? How would you feel about living in a society that eliminates the “exceptional” among us in favor of producing homogenous populations of mediocrity where we cater to the lowest common denominator and where no one is left behind? Is that how we advance as a people or even as a profession? Clearly, we don’t want a society that is punitive or that assumes each success must be balanced with a failure. Rather, for any given segment in society we should have regulations and standards in place that are attainable with hard work and whose finish line yields tangible rewards. This is especially true when we are talking about medicine and surgery. The key word is “Standards,” for this is the bar that best ensures a degree of safety and expertise when you, I or anyone else enters into the doctor-patient relationship as the latter.
The hero of Charles Dickens's novel “Martin Chuzzlewit,” just off the Liverpool steamer and landed at the port of New York, knows virtually nothing about America, but he learns a little something about it when he attends his first boarding-house dinner. “There were no fewer than four majors present, two colonels, one general, and a captain, so that he could not help thinking how strongly officered the American militia must be; and wondering very much whether the officers commanded each other; or if they did not, where on earth the privates came from.”
In “Everyone's a Winner,” sociologist Joel Best notes in passing that the inflation of military rank is still very much with us, but his survey of America's self- congratulatory culture concentrates primarily on contemporary suburban life. Everywhere the author turns his gaze—from bumper stickers that boast about “my kid the honor-roll student” to boosterish “employee of the month” awards — Mr. Best sees a proliferation of prizes that seems to arise from a desperate desire to exclude fewer and fewer people from the winner's podium.
This tendency is evident in the broader cultural realm. Last spring I was so proud to learn that my nephew was the Valedictorian of his graduating high school class, imagine my surprise when I learned that he was one of 15 Valedictorians!
Personally, I don’t want to live in a society where everyone is a winner, where rewards are granted with no regard to effort, study and risk.
For example, I want my pilot to be certified by the FAA, I would be very concerned if my pilot was able to fly after obtaining certification from a second-tier organization. I ask the same of my personal physician. My own standards are in line with those of most, if not all, hospital credentialing committees. Whereby hospital privileges require that the physician is certified by the predominant certifying body for their given specialty. This standard should be no different for the foot & ankle surgeon. Whether you are a Fellow or an Associate of the ACFAS, you should be proud of your ABPS board certified/qualified status. Those letters speak volumes to your training and experience. Does this make you an expert? A leader? Or perhaps, at the end of the day it just means you’re the same kind of physician you would be comfortable sending your family, friends and colleagues to . . .
Questions for Dr. Weinraub? Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.