Risk management is its own reward

Published in the October 2004 issue of BioMechanics

By Jordana Bieze


Some of the best stories in sports are about taking chances. Stories about the kid nobody had ever heard of who went on to achieve greatness because somebody somewhere thought maybe he or she was worth a shot.

These are stories like that of Mike Piazza, chosen by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 Major League Baseball draft as a favor to a family friend, who has gone on to become arguably the best hitting catcher in the history of the sport. Or like the story of quarterback Tom Brady, the sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2001 who has gone on to collect two Super Bowl rings in a three-year span. Or the story of an undersized gelding named Smarty Jones, whose unlikely Triple Crown bid this summer made Americans care about horse racing again.

These are calculated risks, of course, since in professional sports there is always money at stake. But they are risks nonetheless, with no guarantee of reward.

Some of the best stories in healthcare are also about taking chances. Stories about treatments nobody had ever conceived of that went on to change lives because somebody somewhere thought maybe they were worth testing.

These are stories like that of the late Paul Brand, MD, whose willingness to take a new look at what had previously been an unsuccessful approach to offloading plantar ulcers led to the total contact casting technique that is now the gold standard. Or that of Frank Jobe, MD, who in 1974 gave a professional pitcher named Tommy John odds of 1 in 100 that his ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction would be successful; that procedure not only saved John's career but has since saved the careers of countless athletes at all levels, with a success rate of around 90%.

These are calculated risks, of course, since in healthcare there are always ethics at stake. But they are risks nonetheless, with no guarantee of reward.

As in sports and in healthcare, some of the best stories in life are also about taking chances. Stories about a boy meeting a girl that nobody thinks of as anything more than just another boy-meets-girl until inexplicably it is just that, all because somebody somewhere thought another somebody might be worth getting to know a little better.

These are stories like that of a certain magazine editor who, on the very first day of the year 2000, took a chance on dinner with a guy who seemed to be everything she wasn't looking for. In April of the following year, she cautiously typed the words "my boyfriend" into an editor's memo, gambling that the phrase would not somehow have been rendered meaningless by the time the issue came off press. And on the 17th of this month, she and he will stand together before family and friends and take the biggest risk of all.

These are calculated risks, of course, since in life there is always personal happiness at stake. But they are risks nonetheless, with no guarantee of reward.

Which makes the reward that much sweeter. Take it from the new Mrs. Daniel Foster.


Copyright 2008 Jordana Foster – 24 Kirkland Dr, Stow, MA – Email: – Fax: (815) 346-5239