What I Wish Clinicians Knew About Industry … and Vice Versa
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Let me leap out of the frying-pan into the fire; or, out of God’s blessing into the warm sun.
Cervantes: Don Quixote. Part i. Book. iii. Chap. iv.*
I sit here writing this almost 7 years from the day that marked my transition from academic cardiologist in New York to a role in the medical device industry, eventually becoming Chief Medical Officer for Rhythm Management at Boston Scientific. Almost every day since, one or another of my colleagues (I will not call them “former colleagues”; more on that later) has asked me 1 of 2 questions: What do you miss most from clinical practice? What surprised you most about the transition? The answer to the first is easy. What I miss most are the emotional bonds I formed with patients and their family members. Clinicians are privileged to share with patients some of their most difficult, most uplifting and, ultimately, most human experiences. It was excruciatingly difficult to give that up, but I find equivalent satisfaction in the thought that, rather than serially impacting 1 patient at a time, my actions can now benefit multitudes.
The second answer is more nuanced and complex. Perhaps you will be as surprised as I was at what surprised me: I discovered that clinicians are far too cynical about how industry operates … but also that industry is far too cynical about how physicians act. In the end, the frying pan and the fire are more similar than different. Practicing physicians and employees in the medical technology industry are equally motivated by the goal of improving patient outcomes, equally challenged by the difficulty inherent in making decisions …