Letter from the Editor
The Wisdom to Know the Difference
My father died of pancreatic cancer. Rather, I should say he died of the operation
meant to cut out the cancer, a complex procedure called a “Whipple.” The night
before he was to have the operation I visited him in the hospital. He was sitting up
in bed, with his briefcase open, going over papers he had asked his staff to send
over from the office.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“What would you like me to do? I don’t have any medical expertise, so I can’t affect the outcome of the
operation. I’m not interested in what’s on television. And my clients are waiting for these papers.”
Of course, I expected that he would be overcome with anxiety, or trying to distract himself with some
ing what was necessary and important.
If only all of us could have that sane, serene reaction in the face of a life-altering event. I hope that was
part of the DNA I inherited from him.
I;learned;from;reading;Kurt;Vonnegut;about;the;“Alcoholics’;Prayer”:;God;grant;me;the;serenity;to;ac-cept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the
difference. Dad obviously knew the difference.
In regularly publishing articles on the mountain of challenges facing our industry, it occurs to me that
not knowing the difference often gets in the way of progress. We hear about siloing, not-invented-here
attitudes, bureaucratic red tape, duplication of effort, and other speed bumps that have little to do with
our main goal, patient care.
It makes me wonder if this isn’t yet another impediment to our roundtable issue, bringing down the cost
of healthcare. Look around you. If you see people who don’t know the difference between what they can
or can’t change—or if you see yourself in that group—maybe it’s time for an attitude adjustment. Let’s
keep the focus where it belongs. On healing.
As always, we continue to look for the value of your contributions. Let us know if you have an idea for an
article—the people we write for are the people who write for us.
Neil Greenberg, Editor
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