I love my specialist doctor friends who now spend most of their time generalizing.
….At least that’s my take on it. I think it’s a good thing.
I recall pretty clearly when I first learned there was any such thing as a medical specialist. Before that, I had no idea there was any such thing. I suppose cars are a good example. No matter what the issue, dad would take the car down to the mechanic he habitually used and there would be some assessment, and some fix: and it didn’t matter whether it was pin bearings in a U-joint that needed replacement, a head gasket, valve grinding, or a carburetor rebuild. It got done.
But I’m being unfair.
Owing to the pace at which advancements now accrue, there really is no choice but to specialize. Otherwise, you get half-assed everywhere, right? Self evident? In terms of automobiles, the age of fully integrated generalist is probably over. And it probably should be. Why hold it back by force for sake of nostalgia?
But that accrues to technological advancement, as it is with computers and software. There is simply no single person that can integrate to a level of basic competence. But is the human body getting more complex with every model year, or is knowledge coming from the other direction — i.e., deeper and a more complete understanding, much coming from specialists?
Hmm. I. Don’t. Know. This is perhaps why I tend to pay some attention to smart, no woo-woo holistic practitioners (like Chris Kresser).
But it’s also is what it is. It’s difficult, I think, to argue against the burgeoning medical establishment, as such. They’re operating like any privileged business. And there is effectiveness and real results and I resist efforts to dismiss them.
…They’re far “too big to fail,” so don’t worry.
Back to the beginning. I grew up in the 60s, considering a doctor as someone just a single rung down from God. They knew everything, were expected to know everything, and they always had an out: that upper rung. That was probably enough, Monday through Friday, for most of us; even us kids. But on special occasions, there was talk of seeing a “specialist.” This was a Big Deal. It meant your case was particular, that it merited special attention. You might even die, but you might also be saved.
Now, specialists are as ubiquitous as Ms. Fields in a mall.
I grew up loving this serendipity of life, that whatever may pass, people were being their best and doing their best; and yea, if you didn’t understand they were making a better than average livelihood, then you were just stupid and so should be particularly thankful if your stupid ass got saved. But as I recall. everyone did understand.
We should understand why the manufacturing of ships, automobiles, airplanes, computers and a whole host of increasingly complex appliance and gadgetry gets farmed out. It’s too much for one person or firm to handle, which isn’t even the point, really. It’s clear they can do better for themselves and more quickly, spreading the wealth around to others who are willing to invest and take a risk.
I guess my point is that specialization is really just another way of expressing “division of labor.” So, OK, given that the human body is not getting more complex, we’re just understanding it more, do you want division of labor, or do you want integrative understanding?
The human body is relatively static. We know more about it, over time, but it is still not an object of industry. The medical profession can help. It has helped. It has done wonders, and I stand against Luddites in this regard.
But it’s not getting more complex, we are simply understanding more. Forgive me, but I think that calls for integration, not deconstruction. I think it calls for deeper, holistic and integrative understanding, not further dis-integration and specialization.
So in this regard, I guardedly stand against the medical profession.
Steve Jobs was perhaps the last self-made entrepreneur that I can imagine, who might die anytime soon. He succeeded to the extent he integrated, combined, made connections, thought about how one thing might relate to another.
Steven Jobs was the furthest thing from a specialist you can get.