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Lessons learned from Lego


Building with Lego can be similar to a career in medicine.

Lessons learned from Lego

As my 4-year-old grandson and I tackled a three-day Lego project, I realized what makes these projects so fun and satisfying are the same things that make the practice of medicine such a challenging and enjoyable career … most of the time!

  1. Visualize the end product.
    The assembled Lego piece on the front of the box gets you excited about the end result before you even take the pieces out of the box.

    When you have an idea or a project you plan to launch, excite your team by painting a picture of the final result and how it will benefit the practice.
  2. Have a Plan B.
    Rarely there are Lego blocks missing in the box. These minor disappointments put my grandson into solution mode, using a shoebox full of spare Lego we found a substitute to continue the project.

    Of course, projects in our practices don’t always proceed as planned. When plans go awry, a well-functioning team can come up with alternatives that put the practice and patient care back on track. Lego teaches us to always have a plan B.
  3. Provide simple and clear instructions.
    Lego projects don’t have written instructions, but only a picture of the final product. That removes the language barrier, allowing children (and their adult helpers) all over the world to assemble a Lego project.

    Similarly, to enhance patient medication compliance make the instructions easy to follow, provide the patient with FAQs on their medications, and partner with the pharmacy to see that patients are contacted for refills.
  4. To glue or not to glue.
    I have on occasion dropped a completed Lego project that shattered into dozens of little pieces. When I asked my grandson if we should consider gluing the bricks together, his answer was, “G Wiz (that’s my grandpa name), you don’t glue Legos!” He’s right. Gluing the Lego together permanently in case you drop the piece might seem like a good idea for a quick fix, but it’s not the proper solution at all.

    How many times do we try a quick fix or a Band-Aid for problems in our practices? If a practice has three to five no shows each day, the quick fix might be to double book patients to fill for the no-shows. But that ends up causing havoc and unhappy patients. So, go without the glue whenever possible!

Bottom line: Lego are an incredible learning vehicle for children and for doctors. We need to always look for ways to improve our patient services, and we can find inspiration in unexpected places, like in those colorful Lego bricks.

Neil Baum, MD, a Professor of Clinical Urology at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. Dr. Baum is the author of several books, including the best-selling book, Marketing Your Medical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, which has sold over 225,000 copies and has been translated into Spanish.

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