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The elusive word

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2014 - Spring


This is the second issue of Yale Medicine dedicated to a single theme. But as we edited, revised, and reworked the feature articles, it became clear to us that our initial theme, invention, was not quite right. Our feature on Rong Fan and his microchip does indeed chronicle the invention of a new medical and research tool. And our article on the Yale Center for Biomedical and Interventional Technology describes how scientists from different disciplines converge to craft new medical devices. But the story of how the iPad and the iPad mini are changing medical education is more about serendipity and a willingness to seize unexpected opportunities. We also tell about a patient willing to undergo a rare heart procedure in order to avoid having a heart transplant or a pump installed in his chest. The last two were not exactly about invention, but they are stories about people who subscribe to the notion that chance favors the prepared mind; about people who are willing to try something new or different. We needed a less trite way to say “thinking outside the box.”

We consulted dictionaries and a thesaurus. We looked online for articles and references to creativity and ingenuity. We talked with experts on the subject. Still, that one incisive, inclusive word that would define the magazine’s theme eluded us. Because we are a small shop, we all have other things to do. That allowed us to abandon the search for the missing word from time to time and dedicate ourselves to other tasks. And as we know from experience, as well as from the experts, inspiration often comes when it’s least expected; when ideas have had time to germinate in the back of one’s mind. We regrouped regularly to check in on the status of the magazine, and at one of those sessions, the word came to us. Not surprisingly, it had long been on a list gleaned from dictionaries and online sources. Ingenious!

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