Conversations With Kohli | Bursting Your Bubble
5:00 a.m. ... The alarm always rings right on time! My day starts with a conversation with the “Alexa” in my bathroom. We talk about the weather, news, other things happening in the world, my schedule for the day while I get ready for the day ahead. Alexa allows me to go through my morning with the perfect illusion that I’ve actually interacted with the outside world — even though for many of us our interactions with technology actually become an impediment (or a replacement for) interactions with our family and friends.
After making my morning latte, I sit down and open my Twitter feed to see what the Twitterati are tweeting about today – is it medicine, politics or their personal lives? I opine on topics I find interesting, adding my thoughts and hashtags. On my way to work, I listen to the latest podcast episode of ACC’s Eagle’s Eye View, JACC summary or ACCEL Lite. I never have time to read anymore and these podcasts are a convenient way to be current. They also give me the illusion that I’m interacting with my colleagues.
I arrive at the hospital in time for my 7 a.m. meeting, followed by 8 a.m. rounds and 9:30 a.m. clinic. I go through my clinic day, finish afternoon rounds, read echoes and then head home to once again immerse myself in the happenings of the day through my many beloved devices and social media.
This day repeats itself over and over, five times a week, 20 times a month, 240 times a year. This is the bubble I live in as a clinical cardiologist. The people I interact with regularly are in my bubble and those outside of it, just grow farther away from me.
Now, I want you to think about the bubble you live in. The repetitive practices you indulge in and the routines that make your workday efficient can strip it of its creativity and innovation. The way in which you interact — or don’t interact — with your friends and family and peers and colleagues both on the local and national level. Who exists within your bubble? Is it growing or shrinking?
Medicine, by its very nature, is an isolating field. You interact with the patient one-on-one. Granted, you work in teams and that can create an environment for collaboration; but for the most part, you work in your bubble, your silo, alone on an island practicing medicine. This is especially a challenge for private practice cardiologists and others who are primarily clinical in their practice and don’t have the ease of an academic department to create opportunities for interaction.
The repetitive practices you indulge in and the routines that make your workday efficient can strip it of its creativity and innovation.
On top of this, technology has paradoxically resulted in more social isolation than ever before. Fewer and fewer people are stepping out of their bubble but are gloriously content with the illusion that they are “well connected” or “networked” because they have thousands of followers on Twitter.
NPR has a great podcast called Invisibilia that reflects on the invisible forces that shape our behavior and it raised this very issue in a recent episode. The episode included a Google techie who was tired of existing only within his bubble so he created a randomization app that allows him to expand outside his bubble and enter other bubbles, both socially and professionally by forcing human interactions that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise. The results were dramatic!
In cardiology, we’re lucky that we don’t need such an app to help us get out of our bubbles for an opportunity for “facetime” with our friends and colleagues. National meetings like the ACC Annual Scientific Session are great opportunities to burst open bubbles! Such meetings take us out of our routines and immerse us in the latest from the world of science, innovation and technology. More so, they provide a rich environment for networking and interacting with friends and colleagues, personally and professionally, empowering us to return to our bubbles renewed and refreshed.
My time in Orlando at #ACC18 expanded my circle and rejuvenated me, giving me far more than I’d ever receive by reading the science online or watching sessions remotely. I met colleagues from near and far, some planned meetings and some random run-ins. Whether it was eating popcorn with my friend from residency in the Expo Hall while discussing research, sharing a car to the airport with another colleague and talking about medical education, or discussing with another friend the perks of TSA precheck while in the security line at the airport, each conversation opened a window into their bubble and expanded my own.
Payal Kohli, MD, FACC, practices at the Heart Institute of Colorado in Denver, where she treats a variety of cardiovascular diseases. She is also the lead physician of the Women’s Heart Center.
Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Friends, Social Media, Creativity, Internship and Residency, Reading, Research, Private Practice, Education, Medical, Politics, Leadership
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