Santiago worked as a kid. First, he apprenticed with a barber, then a cobbler.
But what he always wanted to be was an artist. He had a gift for drawing, and a love for art -- despite neither thing being much supported by his school or community. He was also rebellious and anti-authoritarian when it came to school. He even went to jail when he was 11, for something between a prank and a crime (he destroyed his neighbor's gate with a homemade cannon.) His father wanted him to be a doctor, though. And one day, trying to find a link between medicine and the arts for him, Santiago Ramón y Cajal's father took him to a cemetery, carrying home bones for him to sketch. (This might seem macabre now, but can be understood in the context of early anatomical studies, Ramón y Cajal's father being an anatomy professor.)
That day must have forged just enough of a connection between medicine and art, because Ramón y Cajal ended up going to medical school and, indeed, becoming a doctor. He became fascinated with understanding how neural impulses travel through the brain. He spent his days "hunched over a microscope" in his lab, making hyper-detailed, conceptually original drawings of neurons -- all of which added up to a transformation of how we understand the brain.
Close to 100 years later, Ramón y Cajal is now known as the father of modern neuroscience and is a winner of the Nobel Prize. He used a combination of close observation, his own drawings, and deep insight to advocate for a theory of how the brain works that is precisely how we understand the fundamentals today.
We find Santiago Ramón y Cajal's story inspiring when it comes to our pursuit of telemedicine for a few reasons:
A picture really is worth a thousand words.
He demonstrates how our understanding often starts with the visual, especially of complex systems. He didn't start with theories or concepts. He started with drawings -- both to understand what was happening in the brain, as well as to communciate it. We see exactly the same dynamic with iClickCare. In Hybrid Store-and-Forward telemedicine you can use pictures and videos (not just words) -- these images enable understanding, as well as communication and then collaboration.
Working together is the only way to true significance.
As the New York Times said, Ramón y Cajal's theory for how neurons speak to each other "was made possible by Ramón y Cajal’s refinement of the Golgi stain and his persistence in sharing his ideas with others." The Golgi stain was a project that he didn't even start; he borrowed the stain technology, and then improved it in collaboration with Golgi. His sharing of these theories and drawings were what changed how we see the brain. This is a deeply held principle and why we are so passionate about telemedicine: even geniuses don't work in isolation. It's only by sharing our work that it gains significance. Further, the mystery of connections elucidated by Cajal certainly feels the same now for healthcare collaboration 2017 as the neurons did at the turn of the last century.
Medicine is part art and part science.
Every moment with a patient is part art and part science. Every conversation with a colleague is part art and part science. And the same goes for telemedicine. For an iClickCare consultation to be effective, there is always a great photo and a thoughtful question. You don't have to be a great photographer, but there is a creative side to communicating well, especially through photos.
We hope that this story inspires all of you to work at the intersection of art and science (with maybe just a little rebellion thrown in as well.)
For a free guide to the basics of using your iPhone for medical photography and telemedicine, click here:
Photo from 42600332@N08 on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.