Dr. James Bernstein worked in developing
countries where surgeons needed to fast-
track procedures and improvise to save lives.
WHO CAN’T WAIT
CONVENTION AND INVENTS A STERILE SURGERY IN A SUITCASE.
SOMETIMES THE WORLD NEEDS TO MOVE A LITTLE FASTER,
ESPECIALLY WHEN LIVES ARE AT STAKE. JAMES BERNSTEIN BRUSHES ASIDE
Great ideas sometimes start with asking uncomfortable questions.
told how to treat pneumonia, perform an appendectomy and conduct a physical, Dr. James
Bernstein had the audacity to ask “Why?” It was less to do with ignorance and more to do
with the urgency he saw around him – the race to treat more than 5 billion people who don’t
have access to basic surgery. One day, during his medical studies at Cornell University
Medical School (now known as Weill Cornell Medicine), Bernstein overheard a professor –
known for his prodigious surgical procedures – replying to a fellow student who had asked
why such long waiting periods were required before they could start saving lives. The answer
he received: “What’s the hurry?”
“In a world where 5 billion people don’t have access to surgery, it’s a big hurry,” says
Bernstein. “I grew up a well-behaved Jewish boy, who went to medical school because that’s
what my parents wanted. At medical school you get taught a single idea – that there’s only
one way to do things. You’ll hear phrases such as: ‘because this is our way’ or ‘best practice’ –
you don’t ask questions; you just do it.”
ADVANCE SOLUTIONS TO COMMON SOCIAL PROBLEMS BY EXPLORING (SAFE) SHORTCUTS