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Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance by Atul Gawande
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Better Quotes (showing 1-17 of 17)
“Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“We always hope for the easy fix: the one simple change that will erase a problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right - one after the other, no slipups, no goofs, everyone pitching in.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“Betterment is perpetual labor. The world is chaotic, disorganized, and vexing, and medicine is nowhere spared that reality. To complicate matters, we in medicine are also only human ourselves. We are distractible, weak, and given to our own concerns. Yet still, to live as a doctor is to live so that one's life is bound up in others' and in science and in the messy, complicated connection between the two It is to live a life of responsibility. The question then, is not whether one accepts the responsibility. Just by doing this work, one has. The question is, having accepted the responsibility, how one does such work well.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“Are doctors who make mistakes villains? No, because then we all are.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“People underestimate the importance of dilligence as a virtue. No doubt it has something to do with how supremely mundane it seems. It is defined as "the constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken."... Understood, however, as the prerequisite of great accomplishment, diligence stands as one of the most difficult challenges facing any group of people who take on tasks of risk and consequence. It sets a high, seemingly impossible, expectation for performance and human behavior.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“The striking thing is that WHO doesn't really have the authority to do any of this. It can't tell governments what to do. It hires no vaccinators, distributes no vaccine. It is a small Geneva bureaucracy run by several hundred international delegates whose annual votes tell the organization what to do but not how to do it.…The only substantial resource that WHO has cultivated is information and expertise.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“It is unsettling to find how little it takes to defeat success in medicine. You come as a professional equipped with expertise and technology. You do not imagine that a mere matter of etiquette could foil you. But the social dimension turns out to be as essential as the scientific--matters of how casual you should be, how formal, how reticent, how forthright. Also: how apologetic, how self-confident, how money-minded. In this work against sickness, we begin not with genetic or cellular interactions, but with human ones. They are what make medicine so complex and fascinating. How each interaction is negotiated can determine whether a doctor is trusted, whether a patient is heard, whether the right diagnosis is made, the right treatment given. But in this realm there are no perfect formulas.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“To become a doctor, you spend so much time in the tunnels of preparation--head down, trying not to screw up, just going from one day to the next--that it is a shock to find yourself at the other end, with someone shaking your hand and offering you a job. But the day comes.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“Five years later, Albert Sabin published the results of an alternative polio vaccine he had used in an immunization campaign in Toluca, Mexico, a city of a hundred thousand people, where a polio outbreak was in progress. His was an oral vaccine, easier to administer than Salk’s injected one. It was also a live vaccine, containing weakened but intact poliovirus, and so it could produce not only immunity but also a mild contagious infection that would spread the immunity to others. In just four days, Sabin’s team managed to vaccinate more than 80 percent of the children under the age of eleven—26,000 children in all. It was a blitzkrieg assault. Within weeks, polio had disappeared from the city. This approach, Sabin argued, could be used to eliminate polio from entire countries, even the world. The only leader in the West who took him up on the idea was Fidel Castro. In 1962, Castro’s Committee for the Defense of the Revolution organized 82,366 local committees to carry out a succession of weeklong house-to-house national immunization campaigns using the Sabin vaccine. In 1963, only one case of polio occurred in Cuba.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“At times, in medicine, you feel you are inside a colossal and impossibly complex machine whose gears will turn for you only according to their own arbitrary rhythm. The notion that human caring, the effort to do better for people, might make a difference can seem hopelessly naïve.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“One American in seven has no coverage, and one in three younger than sixty-five will lose coverage at some point in the next two years. These are people who aren't poor or old enough to qualify for government programs but whose jobs aren't good enough to provide benefits either.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“The medical officer’s microplan was a sheaf of ragged paper, with marker-drawn maps and penciled-in tables. The first page said that he had recruited twenty-two teams of two vaccinators each to cover a population of 34,144 people. “How do you know this population estimate is right?” Pankaj asked. The officer replied that he’d done a house-to-house survey.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“The third requirement for success is ingenuity—thinking”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“An audience is a community. The published word is a declaration of membership in that community and also of a willingness to contribute something meaningful to it.
So choose your audience. Write something.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“When someone has come to you for your expertise and your expertise has failed, what do you have left? You have only your character to fall back upon—and”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“You do not imagine that a mere matter of etiquette could foil you. But the social dimension turns out to be as essential as the scientific—matters of how casual you should be, how formal, how reticent, how forthright. Also: how apologetic, how self-confident, how money-minded.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance
“International organizations are fond of grand-sounding pledges to rid the planet of this or that menace. They nearly always fail, however. The world is too vast and too various to submit to dictates from on high.”
Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

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