The Lucidicus Project – Empowering Medical Students

Throughout each medical school lecture or small group discussion emphazing “my moral responsibility to sacrifice myself to society,” I struggled to express how damnable this concept was. It wasn’t until I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged that my eyes were opened to the truth.

Now, thankfully, Jared Rhoads has founded the Lucidicus Project to arm med students with the knowledge to proudly defend one of the world’s greatest careers.

“What makes the encroachment of state-run medicine possible is that doctors, by and large, are not philosophically equipped to defend themselves. They are told””and many believe””that the only proper motive for entering medicine is to help others. As a result, those who enter medicine for the self-motivated reasons of intellectual challenge, love of the field, and financial reward are made to feel a profound guilt over any material success they have achieved. This technique of inducing guilt gives the moral high ground to those in society who demand self-sacrifice and submission. Unable to advocate for their own rights, doctors come to accept and invite further intrusion into their field under the mistaken premise that such measures will achieve prosperity or ‘social justice.”

Interested medical students can receive free copies of The Medical Intellectual’s Self-Defense Kit, a collection of Ayn Rands writings and a free copy of her historic novel, Atlas Shrugged.

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  • Anonymous

    I recall “Atlas Shrugged” as one of the more obscene wastes of time I ever perpetrated on myself as a grad student.

    Rand’s basic premise is deeply flawed: That pursuit of self-interest ultimately serves a social good, as self-interests cannot be achieved without, as a by-product, aiding others.

    Tell that to the corporate CEOs. Tell it to the politicians who vote themselves fat pay raises and waste taxpayer dollars on pork in order to secure re-election. Etc.

    There is nothing wrong with carrying a little guilt — no matter who you are or what job you fill. Some would argue that it makes you a better, more caring and compassionate human being.

  • The Independent Urologist

    Medicals need to have some business courses to prepare students for the future. Good business makes for good patient care and vice-versa.

  • DR. MARY JOHNSON

    Organized medicine needs to acknowledge that very bad things have happened to doctors caught up in (or in the way of) the corporate machine.

    They don’t. Over the years, with many “dead bodies” in the wake, they refuse to admit that our current (super-secretive/legally over-protected) system of medical peer review is deeply flawd and ripe for abuse/bad-faith . . . they refues to take measure that might protect medical whistleblowers (many of whom know well what it feels like to “sacrifice themselves to society” and get kicked in the teeth for that sacrifice).

    The older generation pretty much sold the rest of us out as they sucked up to “managed care” (the embodiment of “the pursuit of self-interest) in order to make sure that the retirement packages were secure, so this is left to the newbies.

    Every time I return to a teaching institution and (in casual conversation) share with residents/interns/sutdents what happened to me in public service, they look at me with widdened and alarmed eyes, and tell me that “no tell us about these things in training”.

    Of course not. Organized medicine wants you to be another cog in the wheel driving the revolving doors of of cheap medical labor and indentured servitude.

    It is far past the time medical students and residents were “armed” with more information.

  • MLO

    I’m reaching in my brain for Psychopathology courses I took in college, but I seem to remember that a “lack of guilt” = sociopath.

    Personally, I think the sociopaths have taken over our society and that is the problem. We are afraid to tell people that they are really, evil! It is just plain evil to love money more than mankind. (I know mankind is not all that lovable … )

    Compassion and empathy are all too lacking in today’s society.

    Pax,

    MLO

  • Evan

    LOL.

    If people consider giving students a copy of Ayn Rand’s books as “arming them,” then the unfortunate students so armed will be as well equipped to defend themselves as an irate squirrel wielding a bag of frozen Canadian peas.

    True understanding of a situation requires an appreciation for nuance and a rejection of one-size-fits-all thinking that Ayn Rand was simply incapable of.

    You need look no further than the successes of the political party most attached to Ayn Rand in the electoral sphere to see that.

    Doctors should be students of the human condition, not parrots who mouth pablum dictated by an adulterous nicotine-addicted gasbag.

  • KoKo

    Quit the crap and arm the students with the basics of biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology and pathology.
    ( And toss in some “virutal anatomy on the side!).

  • Anonymous

    I suppose if the doctors “shrug” (dissappear or go on strike) that would let the people of America sit up and take notice.

    The corporate model of today is NOT what Ayn Rand had in mind when she wrote her masterwork. The insurance company CEO’s of today would be considered “looters” (or maybe “moochers”) instead of producers. I agree with her premise that the producers of society are manipulated by guilt into self-imposed servitude.

    Not that I agree with her objectivist philosphy entirely–there is no room in her world for altruism, something that has to be present, at least in some measure, in a physician.

  • Anonymous

    I shrugged atlas shrugged…lol. got to about page 300 (of 700?). put it down. never read any more and eventually tossed it. i once saw a nurse who was reading it voraciously. i never got what was so interesting about the book. yea i liked the female character. but after 300 pages it was the first book ive ever tossed out. did i miss anything.???? sorry you had to read that josh.

  • Anonymous

    Doctors (or any other people) who enter a career out of a desire to rescue, or save, or inflict their personal-mission-in-life on other people should be avoided. I think they are naive. And when they finally come up against reality, they must become very unhappy, confused, and/or angry.

    As a patient, I prefer a doctor who tries to do their job well, sets personal limits, and is realistic about the limitations of the system they work within. Hopefully, they also enjoy their work and can make a good living. I prefer to avoid martyrs and those who want to be heroes.

    I’m no fan of Ayn Rand either.

  • Anonymous

    Gee, here we are, being subjected to Josh’s fixation on Ayn Rand, when there are other compelling stories out there such as this:

    Calm, steady hospital care shines during bridge disaster

    Thorough planning helps hospitals treat at least 110 by Friday morning

    St. Paul, MN – About 40 hours after the Mississippi River bridge collapse, 10 Twin Cities hospitals had treated at least 110 adults and children. More than 24 of the disaster victims remain hospitalized Friday morning.

    In the aftermath of the collapse, hospitals played an essential role in treating injured victims. Just minutes after the bridge collapsed at 6:10 p.m., facilities set into motion emergency response plans. Since 2001, Minnesota hospitals have invested considerable time and resources into emergency-preparedness efforts. This means being ready to handle the unthinkable.

    “We trained a lot, hoping that we never have to use it. Unfortunately, [Wednesday] we did,” said Douglas Burnette, M.D., Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis, during an Aug. 2 news conference.

    HCMC was one of two facilities—University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview being the other – that received the most patients from the disaster. By implementing an “orange disaster” code, HCMC called in additional staff and moved patients out of the emergency department and intensive care unit to make room for disaster victims.

    Across the city, similar steps were under way. Abbott Northwestern Hospital and North Memorial Medical Center saw a smaller influx of patients, caring for both adults and children from the scene. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota treated 13 kids, many who came to the hospital’s emergency department on Thursday.

    “This is the type of disaster you hope never happens, but it demonstrates that the disaster preparedness training these hospitals have undertaken has paid off,” said Minnesota Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben. “They did an extremely effective job treating patients in a very tragic, chaotic situation.”

    As part of the larger effort to manage the overall health-care needs in the Twin Cities that evening, other hospitals took on additional cases unrelated to the bridge disaster. Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park cared for two disaster victims with minor injuries, but treated a large number of emergency-department patients overall. “There was an additional increase in patient volume due to patients coming to Methodist to avoid emergency rooms that were treating bridge collapse victims,” said Jeremiah Whitten, Park Nicollet spokesman.

    “This is an effort of all hospitals, and the response was exceptional,” said William Heegaard, M.D., HCMC emergency department. Looking ahead, the hospital community will undoubtedly study their response to this disaster to further refine plans for whatever might come next.

  • DR. MARY JOHNSON

    That story (about the courage of first repsonders) is actually getting lots of news coverage and it’s a good thing.

    The actions of these people speaks to sense of self-sacrifice that so many in the medical field (not just doctors) have . . . anything for the patient (also a good thing).

    That’s not being a “martyr” . . . at least not until you’re (corporately) martyred for it.

    But it’s definitely what “the suits” take advantage of.

    I daresay that, as a patient, when those situations happen that push the “limitations of the system doctors work within”, you’re going to want someone around who is willing to go the extra mile because of their personal sense of duty . . . becasue they give a damn about something besides the money.

    I’ve never sat down and really read Ms. Rand. But I am inspired by this post to do so (even if her premise is “deeply flawed”).

    Medical students and residents do need to know how the world really works. Otherwise they are lambs to slaughter.

  • Ben

    Hmm, I read Atlas Shrugged and I thought she was at least pretty clear about what she meant by self-interest. And it isn’t at all what is being claimed here.

    Her book “The Virtue of Selfishness” is a very quick read for all of you who don’t have the attention span for A.S.

  • Evan

    Ben, perhaps you could engage us by stating exactly what it is Ayn Rand means by self interest. I’m sure if we’re all terribly mistaken you can correct our misperceptions.

  • Anonymous

    Physicians patting themselves on the back over doing their jobs. Careful, you might tear the long head of the biceps or rupture a supraspinatus tendon with that. Hopefully, given the deities that are being referenced here, there will be no deaths of anyone that actually reached the temple.

  • Jenny

    Hey Ben… My boyfriend owns a copy of “The Ayn Rand Lexicon,” so I’ve got your back on this….

    From The Virtue of Selfishness:
    “Just as a man cannot survive by any random means, but must discover and practice the principles which his survival requires, so man’s self-interest cannot be determined by blind desires or random whims, but must be discovered and achieved by the guidance of rational principles. This is why the Objectivist ethics is a morality of rational self-interest – or of rational selfishness.”

    While we’re on the topic, I think the definition of the word “selfishness” needs some clarification.

    Also from The Virtue of Selfishness:

    “The meaning ascribed in popular usage to the word “selfishness” is not merely wrong; it represents a devastating intellectual “package-deal” which is responsible, more than any other single factor, for the arrested moral development of mankind.

    “In popular usage, the word ‘selfishness’ is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.

    “Yet the exact meaning and the dictionary definition of the word ‘selfishness’ is: concern for one’s own self interests..”

    And finally…

    “Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egoist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge, or act. Those are functions of the self”

    Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, I think we can at do her the courtesy of discussing her on her own terms.

  • Anonymous

    Medicine is a profession which by definition “professes” a set of ethics. When one identifies onself as a physician, then one is advertising that one professes a particular set of ethics without having to say anything more as it is a common and ages old consensus in the definition of the term. If one does not then provide services within those ethics, then one has commited fraud.

    Hippocratic ethics does not require that one sacrifice ones own interests to help whoever needs it.

    They do require that once one has accepted a doctor patient relationship, whether for a fee or a personal choice to extend charity or motivated by some other felt obligation or belief, then to that person the physician is ethically bound to sacrifice his own interest in certain respects: to recommend care based what is in the patients interests and not his own, and to keep the patients confidences regardless of his own self-interest.

    So even objectivist thinking, properly considered, is not inconsistent with ethical medical practice.

    The human heart being full of every sort of sin, I imagine some medical students will shame the entire enterprise by using it to to justify suplanting medical ethics with business ethics. Run a business with objectives of maximizing sales rather than optimizing care, giving customers what they want instead of telling patients “no” when what they want is bad for them.

    But the objectivists have no way of guarding against that, not even recognizing sin, as they are athiests. That is my concern.

    Better to teach medical students traditional ethics, ground it into them body and soul. Beat them down and wear them out like capitalists in a commie reeducation camp until Hippocratic ethics can be woven into their formaldehype impregnated DNA. But to leave their basic philosophy of life untouched, as whether Christian, Objectivist, Muslim, or Jew, it is all compatible with medical ethics. I do have some concern about collectivist ethics as Hippocratic ethics are individualistic, but that is for another debate. In fact the only real value I see to Rand’s rants, is that they give the athiest something to stand on in resisting the intellectual tyranny of communists and fellow-traveling socialists.

  • the sak

    Regrettably there’s no blog for Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Geriatric Care Services. More blogs like this are needed for hospitals.

    Can anyone arrange for me to talk with my friend at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Geriatric Care Services?

    This is a matter of the most immediate concern!

    I’m trying to telephone an old friend of mine at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Geriatric Care Services. There are too many obstacles for getting in touch with patients and for patients getting in touch with friends and family.

    Please look into and advocate for having more accessible telephones available so that Lemuel Shattuck Hospital Geriatric Care Services patients are not so isolated from friends and family. The further risk with difficulties to recovery by people this isolated from telephone communications is a matter of great concern. Having people in closer touch with those they care about shortens recovery, motivates. A community health issue — this current level of relatively isolated people at the Geriatric Care Services!

  • Anonymous

    “I imagine some medical students will shame the entire enterprise by using it to to justify supplanting medical ethics with business ethics.”

    This is what concerns me as well. But I am also afraid that it has already happened.

    As for Rand…I find snippets of quotations from her much easier to digest, and I don’t apologize for disliking “Atlas Shrugged”. It is a lumbering beast of a novel that begs to be misunderstood by sacrificing clarity for overlong, muddy rhetoric. The ideas are worth examining, but it is not a well-written book.

    I also think that any study of this novel should immediately be followed by reading Steinbeck’s for more eloquent “The Grapes of Wrath”, wherein the Joad family learns that survival may actually depend on reaching out.

  • Zagreus Ammon

    Horrible concept, this application of Ayn Rand’s ideas to the practice of medicine.

    My impression is that there were some valid observations in Ayn Rand, but she approaches an argument that the ultimate value of a human being is what they can make, take and accumulate. While it is the prerogative of capital (in all its forms) to preserve itself and to accumulate, I doubt that even the most successful conqueror would point to their “selfishness” as a raison d’etre.

    I prefer the enlightened self-interest that would dictate to care for your fellow human being, before they become a mob… remember Marie Antoinette.

  • Anonymous

    Ha, ha, ha!!!!!

    A doctor who likes Ayn Rand. Hypocrite! You’re all for individual freedom UNTIL someone who doesn’t have an MD wants to practice “medicine,” then you snivel to the government and demand regulation.

  • Anonymous

    Crim, if it were up to you we would all be feeding our pets contaminated pet food, brushing our teeth with antifreeze, and ingesting adulterated medications while witchdoctors (that’s W.D.’s for those not in the know) chanted and danced around our deathbeds.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like the URL has changed… it should be http://lucidicus.org

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