Sharing is Caring

Editor Dr. Steve Carstensen opens this issue with his thoughts about exchanging ideas and creating new opportunities.

Exchanging ideas
Steve Carstensen, DDS
Diplomate, American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine

”If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw

How many events in your life each day involve helping others understand something new to them? How many times does someone else provide a new thought you’ve not considered before? Read any good books lately?  What happened then – you probably told someone else about it.

Readers of DSP, I’d wager, live every day filled with opportunities like these, because we are the curious, generous type. At the most basic level, we sit knee to knee with strangers, soon to become patients, and help them teach us something new – what is it about them that drove them to seek us out? Our expertise flows back to them, and we both have grown in the process. If they don’t have the courage, circumstances, and need to tell us their story, no treatment is possible. If we lack the ability to match deep knowledge with their highest perceived benefit, positive actions won’t be forthcoming.

On the plane today heading to a conference to meet a group of eager learners, I spent time catching up on several sleep journals. So many articles presenting ideas that energized researchers into doing what I could never do: patiently assembling data into useful stories. Editors and reviewers finding needles in haystacks of submitted articles. Curious clinicians supporting the whole effort with dues, subscriptions, and, in some cases, patronage of advertisers. We all have our role to play, our ante into the pot that gives us all a way to add value in meaningful ways.

Outside of our field, we can’t wait to tell our friends about a new movie, bottle of wine, or fine vinyl record we discovered lately – these actions are part of the human condition, knitting together communities. We hope others find as much value as we did from a book, podcast, or TED talk. Keeping it to ourselves feels disrespectful.

How does this help our community get healthier? Imagine if none of these exchanges took place. A common comment when journals are mentioned in my circle of friends goes along the lines of ‘if I only had time….’ Vast knowledge was hidden in the stack of journals I brought onto the plane. I read today about myofunctional therapy – a PubMed chart in the article showed a hockey-stick graph about the number of published essays in the past few years. No clinician can keep up with them all – and that’s just one small bit of our profession!

No one clinician. But we’re used to sharing, aren’t we? What if we formed a small group of friends and committed to studying one segment of shared interest every quarter? We could agree on who would do what and hold each other accountable for bringing discovered knowledge to all of us. Share the expertise in a small group and everyone benefits.

Start small. Be intentional about one idea to share with someone else every day, and one thing you learned. Then two, then three, then, try to keep up.

In a previous column, Dr. Carstensen wrote about exchanging ideas to expand treatment options and collaboration with physicians.

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