Like many physicians who visit The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, Dr. Paul Haidet is going to present his audience with a pair of case studies.
But rather than patients or a specific ailment, Haidet will dive into the dynamics that led two jazz piano trios to play the same number differently some six decades ago.
“It turns out,” he said, “that what we’re struggling with in medicine in terms of interprofessional practice is exactly what the world of jazz was struggling with in respect to what a piano trio was in the early 1960s.”
Haidet, a general internist and distinguished professor of medicine, humanities and public health sciences at Penn State University, will be the featured speaker at the 12th annual S. Amjad Hussain Visiting Lecture in Medical Humanities on Thursday, Oct. 14.
The free public lecture, titled “The Challenges of Interprofessional Practice: Lessons from the World of Jazz,” will begin at 5 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 110 on Health Science Campus.
A student of jazz who has published widely on medical education, doctor-patient communication and humanistic care of patients, Haidet said musicians at the time were struggling with power dynamics and role construction — the same issues that often prevent effective interdisciplinary practice.
“In order to get to a different future where we’re working better as medical teams, we all within the various different medical professions are going to need to grapple with these paradoxes, regardless of whether we’re gowning up and taking care of a patient with COVID, doing trauma surgery in the operating room or are part of a multifaceted team providing oncology care,” he said.
The S. Amjad Hussain Visiting Lecture in Medical Humanities was created in honor of Dr. Hussain, professor emeritus of cardiovascular surgery and humanities, a former member of the UToledo Board of Trustees and a columnist for The Blade.
“Our present medical education curriculum trains physicians to treat diseases and not patients,” Hussain said. “Exposure to literature and arts during medical education gives them the vision to look at human suffering with a different, more compassionate and empathetic lens.”
Haidet said his own realization that he could do things differently — and more intentionally as part of the overall care team — came 10 years into his career as an attending physician.
Rounding with residents at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Houston, he saw an untouched tray of breakfast on the table of a man in his 80s with sepsis and dementia. As he listened to the first-year resident present, he began feeding the man his breakfast.
“I’m here to serve him,” Haidet recalled thinking. “He’s not my patient. I’m his doctor. It turns the whole idea on its head.”
At the end of the month, he joined the hospital’s senior resident as she rounded. Haidet was somewhat astounded to see the team fluffing pillows, refilling water and doing a host of other tasks that physicians would normally leave for nurses or support staff.
When he asked what was going on, they reminded him of the morning he took the time to feed a man his breakfast.
“I’ve thought about that moment for years. It was literally a paradigm-shifting moment for me that made me question everything I thought I knew about what the role of a doctor meant,” he said. “What I hope people will take away from my talk are new ideas and fresh eyes as they go back into their clinical environments of what might I do differently in my own role that might make the world a little bit of a better place.”