Went to Raleigh, NC, a few weeks ago and saw the Carolina Hurricanes win the professional hockey championship. Of course, you saw the games
too - it was all over television earning ratings almost as high as the World Series of Solitaire. But to those who love hockey the way moles love dirt this was the finals of all finals, the game to end all game... the Stanley Cup playoffs.
As I watched all of this hockey (much to my wife's dismay), I began thinking that medicine is a lot like hockey. You've heard before that the practice of good medicine requires many disciplines coming together in collaboration like a successful sports team - but the real truth is... hockey is more like medicine than any one sport. While the Hurricanes kept scoring goals, I realized that every medical specialty or physician often fits one of the five characters that define hockey players:
The Scorer, the Stopper, the Grinder, the Playmaker or the Superstar.
The Scorer is somebody you're very familiar with. The Scorer was born with his own map to the right place at the right time. The Scorer is the one who doesn't study all medical school or residency, can go out the night before, and still manage the highest marks on his medical boards. He always knows his stats and the literature too. The Scorer may be found cherry-picking the most interesting cases because he is bored by routine and is looking for a breakaway goal. You hate the Scorer. You love the Scorer. You watch the Scorer.
The Stopper is different. The Stopper is outspoken, the one you count on to know the clinical answer after everyone else has failed. The Stopper stands between the pipes on an island all by himself. But if the Stopper makes a mistake, a red light goes on and everyone in the hospital stares. The Stopper is the guy who will challenge a referring physician and tell him why a patient's care is inappropriate, a transfer is not indicated or a diagnosis is wrong. We are all forced to be the Stopper sometimes, but few dedicate their career to this role. The Stopper might be weird. But understandably so... look at his job. Thank God for the Stopper, because without a Stopper we don't have a team.