We are a profession divided – Dr Paul Bryan

United we stand, divided we fall.

There is a rich history behind this simple truth.

The saying itself is believed to have originated with the Ancient Greek storyteller Aesop in his tale ‘The Four Oxen and the Lion’. It appears in the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke in the New Testament.

It was the rally cry of the Founding Fathers during the Revolutionary War, and in India during their fight for independence from Great Britain. More recently, it has appeared everywhere from heavy metal to Harry Potter.

Unfortunately, every step in the path to medicine and beyond fosters exactly the opposite mentality.

The examples are myriad. Competing to get into the best premedical university courses. Competing for the highest GAMSAT (or UMAT) score. Competing for a place at the most prestigious medical school. Competing for preferred internship and residency positions. Competing for elusive vocational training positions. Competing for the top Fellowship placements.

After training, the competition continues – for coveted public or private hospital jobs, clinic positions, and even patients.

Unfortunately, our institutions have done little to stem this mentality or behaviour: turf wars, the rural/metropolitan divide, generational differences.

But perhaps the gulf that divides us has grown too wide. Now there are dozens of organisations purportedly representing doctors, or at least sections of the medical community.

We are a profession divided.

But at the bottom of Pandora’s Box lies hope. With each new generation comes a new perspective and a new vision. A new way of doing things.

There is much more that unites us than divides us. We are all doctors. We are all healers. We all seek to do right by our patients and leave the world a little better and brighter than it was the day before.

The first step in the path to change is acknowledging there is a problem and that another reality is possible. The next step is starting a dialogue. And I think BridgeBuilders captures that outlook and optimism perfectly.

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