January 26th, 2020… We will forever remember where we were when we heard the news. Shocked… speechless… heartbroken. We all felt the exact same way.
In the days that followed, there was a collective grief and melancholy that flooded social media. This man we all watched play basketball since his teenage years was no longer with us. He seemed larger than life and had accomplished so many amazing feats. I believed the best was still yet to come in his retirement years. Kobe was in a league of his own. He was the last of a dying breed in the league. See, NBA players no longer leave it all out there like they did back then. The top players never partake in the dunk contest and at times skip out on representing our country during international play. It’s a different game now. While they all work very hard at their craft, no one did it better than Kobe Bryant. His Mamba Mentality is unrivaled. This man would be up at 4am working on his game. It really got me thinking about the parallels with medicine and if this mentality translates positively or negatively.
Can you think of what the Mamba Mentality would look like in medicine? I call this Mamba Medicine.
Imagine someone who is extremely passionate and infatuated with being the best doctor possible. This student wakes up before sunrise every morning and gets to the library before everyone else. I can see him or her being president of the premed society and maybe even lead their regional chapter. This hard work would pay off no doubt with a near 4.0 GPA and 99th percentile MCAT score. This same student will aim for the top medical schools and crush that as well on their way to earning a highly sought-after fellowship. See, those with the Mamba Mentality don’t believe in leaving outcomes to fate – hard work is next to God. This is their ticket to success and it consumes their lives. Forget “Ball is Life” – “Medicine is Life”!
Mamba Medicine may look a bit like this. Looking from the outside-in, others will revere this student or doctor. Besides, this is the smartest student in the class and it all comes so easy for her or him. We all know the type. However, I don’t quite envy this individual. In my mind, I see the strain and stress one with this mindset places on their own body. The waking up at 3am to study translates to little sleep. The hours studying or working means very little time spent with their family and friends. The always in a rush leaves little time to eat healthy or take in the beautiful little things in life. The competitive nature makes them suspicious of others. The Mamba Mentality may cause a student to partake in cut throat acts in order to get a leg up on or advantage over his or her peers.
I appreciate hard work and all but I feel we at times do a disservice to individuals with this mentality. We in a way further mold them with positive reinforcement and enable toxic behavior. We place enormous expectations on them and hold them to a different standard. We don’t ask about their well-being enough or encourage them to rest. I believe this Mamba Mentality takes a huge toll on the individual. I would actually liken it to what med students would call a “gunner”. As a practicing physician, this can certainly lead to burnout, depression, addiction and health problems. I picture the TV character House as one with this mentality. He may seem super smart but would you want to be him knowing what goes on in the background?
At the end of the day, I believe many with this mentality don’t take in the big picture and fail to see things holistically. Happiness with this mentality relies on being superior to others around you so you have to outwork them or bring them down. In medicine, it is important to exhibit passion and good work ethic but eating, sleeping and breathing medicine in order to be the best doctor is detrimental to your health. While it may be admirable in sports and entertainment, the Mamba Mentality in medicine can be toxic to your health.
What are your thoughts on the Mamba Mentality in medicine?
In loving memory of the nine passengers who lost their lives.
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