The Sacred World of Medicine

  • Brian Ferguson
  • April 22, 2020

This image was a 1987 National Geographic Photo of the year. Taken by photographer James Stanfield in an operating room in Poland, the scene is the first heart transplant conducted in the Eastern Bloc.

It was said to be impossible and took 23 grueling hours, using rudimentary equipment.

Look in the back right corner at the nurse who helped perform the operation. Collapsed in exhaustion.

And then look at Dr. Religa, the surgeon who performed the operation. His physical body is wilting in exhaustion. But if you focus on his eyes, you can almost feel him willing the patient to stay alive.

We often share this photo with medical staff to remind them of their rare mission within the “Sacred World of Medicine”. People who want to do hard things, make an impact and save lives. This scene captures that entire spirit in a palpable, visceral way.

Today, there are thousands of scenes like this evolving around the Nation. And, there will be countless photographs in the coming months and years that speak to a modern version of the courage, service and devotion of Dr. Religa’s team.

Most of you may not know that over the last three years, our team at Arena Labs has been driving hard to pioneer a unique approach to modern healthcare: High Performance Medicine. Our work is predicated on the thesis that frontline teams in today’s medical environment work in high-pressure, often life + death circumstances. However, they are rarely given the same tools + training provided to elite military units, world-class athletes, and creative performers in similarly demanding careers.

Over the course of that time, we have deliberately kept our public profile limited so that we could humbly grind, learn, and continually build a solid foundation in understanding the complex world of 21st century healthcare.

Needless to say, I am deeply proud of the team we have built and even prouder of the amazing frontline medical leaders + hospitals we have partnered with.

Our plan was to formally “launch” Arena Labs later this spring. But, more important events have overtaken that timeline and we’re now extremely focused on supporting frontline staff through a variety of channels.

For now, our team is creatively thinking of means to contribute alongside the many frontline staff + leaders we have come to know. We are doing everything we can to continually connect experts across our ecosystem, Performance Ambassadors, and innovative technology to accelerate learnings from these dynamic + challenging times. More to come.

In gratitude + respect to all those men + women “in the arena” of the Sacred World of Medicine.

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