What can medicine learn from Clint Dempsey’s left foot

Clint Dempsey scored the sixth fastest goal in World Cup history and it was a left footed rocket into the far goal post. Make no mistake about it, you couldn’t make that kick with your right foot. At least not that accurately, that fast, and that targeted from that side of the field. What can medical people learn from this?

Something I see a lot of young soccer players do is get the ball, stop it, set up to the right, then finally kick it with their right foot on a bad angle. This gives the goalie or any defender plenty of time to defend you. If you can kick with your left foot, even 60% as good as your right, you could eliminate a lot of those steps and fire a shot in faster and more unexpectedly. The defense and goalie have less time to react, and even a slower ball may get in.

I stress to young people the importance of being ambidextrous. You learned to kick with your right, you should learn to kick with your left. It gives you twice as much capability and you are a huge asset. You don’t have to have a rocket left foot like Dempsey, but it should be good enough.

In medicine, I always stress to residents, fellows, interns, EMTs, RNs, and other physicians to learn new skills. You should be able to start a central line, IV, and intubate a patient from either side and with either hand. You should be able to place a pacer or do a cardiac cath from either side. What if you are in a situation where you can’t reposition the patient? What if you have to intubate someone upside down or seated? What if a patient can’t lie flat and you have to do the cardiac cath with them in a more upright, seated position? Find ways to adapt and get better!

Never limit yourself to what’s easiest and what you were taught. You should always be expanding your horizons and learning new and better ways to do things. Medicine changes every day, and so should you. You will always be a student (and a teacher).