Administrative Update  |   December 2014
The Assertive Actuary: A Cautionary Tale
Author Affiliations
  • Ronald L. Harter, M.D.
    Vice Speaker, ASA House of Delegates
Article Information
Education / CPD / Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Systems / Pain Medicine / Radiological and Other Imaging / Regional Anesthesia / Respiratory System / Quality Improvement / Administrative Update
Administrative Update   |   December 2014
The Assertive Actuary: A Cautionary Tale
ASA Monitor 12 2014, Vol.78, 6-7.
ASA Monitor 12 2014, Vol.78, 6-7.
I have a friend who used to work as an actuary for a large insurance firm. He would joke that in his world, he was a rare breed: an assertive actuary. His observation was that actuaries tend to be introverted by nature, and would thus look at their shoes whenever they engaged in conversation. In contrast, the assertive actuary would boldly look at the shoes of the person with whom they were speaking.
I have reflected on this humorous and somewhat exaggerated depiction of actuaries at various times in my career. Indeed, I have encountered physician anesthesiologist colleagues over the years who might be more inclined to engage in “eye-to-shoe” rather than “eye-to-eye” contact while conversing with surgeons, administrators or fellow anesthesiologists. I recognize that our specialty indeed may draw disproportionately from the more introverted end of the spectrum among our physician cohort. For many of us, the sanctity and solitude of focusing on the management of a single patient at a time is indeed a welcome oasis from the tumult that ensues throughout much of the rest of the day. For five years of my career, I practiced largely in a personal performance model, and relished the opportunity to focus on my patient and block out all the external “noise.” Even now, while medically directing residents, anesthesiologist assistants and nurse anesthetists, the best part of my day tends to be when I can provide a coffee break or lunch break during a case and temporarily block out other distractions.
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