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Can You Make People Curious?

Short answer. Nope. But you can foster it. . .

I have been called many things in my day. One thing I have been called - possibly the one I am most proud of - was "tenacious." I will not stop until I have a reasonable and logical answer to my question. With time, and experiences (both good and bad), I have learned how to harness my curiosity. To use it to my advantage and without offending anyone. And now I want to teach this to others, but some - well, some are just lacking in the curiosity department...

I think this is a circular problem - we tell the med students and residents what to do, how to do it, and when to do it - in essence, we stifle their curiosity. We are actually teaching them not to engage their brains, not to question their "orders."

I was fortunate to have the complete opposite experience as a 3rd year (aka - super impressionable) med student. One of the pediatric hematologist-oncologists would devote hours of his week to teaching myself and another med student on rotation with me. (He would also buy us cookies from Au Bon Pain - possibly why I make baked goods so often) He would ask us questions, soooo many questions, about example labs - he never expected us to have the right answer, just to try. Then he would explain, sometimes re-explain, why the labs he showed us indicated certain diagnoses. Bottom line - he demonstrated and encouraged curiosity.

SOOoooo - How can I pay this forward and "make people curious"? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Whenever I am interacting with learners - I will try my hardest to show my enthusiasm - maybe a little will rub off on them.

  2. I will encourage them to ask questions - to find a question about a patient that they don't know the answer to.

  3. If they seem disinterested - I won't annoy them (and possibly turn their brains off further) by pimping them on things that don't really matter.

  4. Instead of telling them what to do, I will ask them what they think! AND - even if their answer isn't exactly what I would have said or done, I won't stifle their autonomy (and curiosity) by shutting them down.

Remember! The next time you complain that a learner is devoid of curiosity - think about whether you have done something, anything, to encourage or engage it! Let's break the cycle!

How do you foster curiosity??

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