A few years ago, on a cold January morning, a man walked unto the L’Enfant Plaza subway platform in Washington, DC, carrying a violin case. He placed the case on the ground, took out a violin and started playing. Hundreds of people passed by. Some glanced over at him, some listened while waiting for their train. A few dropped coins and money into the open case. He played for about forty-five minutes and then left. He had collected about 30 dollars in coins.
Three nights previous to that morning, the same man had played the same piece of music on the same exact violin to a sold-out audience at Boston’s Stately Symphony Hall. Admission tickets were at an average of $150.00.
The man was Joshua Bell; one of the world’s renowned violinists of our time, and the violin, a three and half million-dollar Stradivarius, handmade in 1713. His performance at the subway station in DC was part of a study arranged by The Washington Post. After The Post published the study, the DC people demanded his return and so months later, he returned to DC to play in the main hall of Union Station for a large and engaged audience.
Bell says: “When hundreds of people are paying hundreds of dollars to hear him play music that is hundreds of years old. It warrants perfection.” That is what we should feel about performing medicine. The person trusting us with his medical issue needs to see the hundred years of accumulated knowledge of medicine passed on to us by our educators to play magic in treating him or her. That happens by showing a little concern about his or her problem.
Today, the pandemic is making many to question our science, our knowledge, and our profession. The result is taxing our healthcare system, and many of our colleagues are burned out and quitting, adding further to the burden of those staying behind. Our perception of our patients is that they should trust us, and we expect them to follow our treatment regiment. But when they show up sick, while denying that which we have been impressing on them, well, one can see how it could vex all sides. These are challenging times, as many sides seem to have lost faith in each other. For us to gain back the trust of our patients, our professionalism must shine brightly.