4 Things Scuba Diving Unexpectedly Taught Me About Practicing Medicine

Lewis Nasr
Published on Aug 6, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.

In today's blog, Osmosis Medical Education Fellow and medical student Lewis Nasr provides parallelism between skills in scuba diving and skills in clinical practice. 

Scuba diving is one of my favorite non-clinical activities. Many of the lessons I’ve learned from diving in the Mediterranean Sea are directly relevant to the practice of medicine for both students and clinicians.

Osmosis illustration of a medical student holding scuba gear.

1. Experienced decision-making

When you train to become a scuba diver, you are taught to anticipate every possible development and thus feel prepared to take decisive action in high-pressure situations. Similarly, the medical professional is constantly making choices based on years of learning to create a safe and caring environment for patients. It’s important to establish such a foundation of knowledge in order to become a great scuba diver—and doctor.

2. The importance of teamwork

Solo diving is known to be incredibly risky. That’s why divers adopt a “buddy system” in which two people are responsible for each other’s equipment and welfare. This is both an exercise of trust and a safeguard against the inevitability of human error. 

Similarly, patient care is far from a solo endeavor. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, and other caregivers collaborate with the patient’s best interests in mind. Each team member plays a critical role in protecting and caring for the patient.

3. How to be a lifelong learner

Scuba diving is about discovering another world; there are many different fields to explore, like cave diving, wreck diving, or underwater photography. This also allows one the opportunity to improve and develop their skills. The comparison to medicine makes itself!

Scientific knowledge is advancing at a rapid pace. Personalized medicine, genomic profiling, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy are some examples of new horizons in medicine. In both medicine and diving, the drive to learn is essential for advancement and honing your expertise.

4. Respect for life

One of the fundamental values of scuba diving is appreciation for marine life in all of its forms. Similarly, humanity and empathy are central to the practice of medicine. Whether I’m scuba diving or taking care of a patient, I must treat the lives I can affect with kindness and respect.

Though scuba diving’s connection to medicine may have seemed unclear at first, there are many profound parallels. I hope this small reflection helps you apply lessons from your hobbies, whatever they may be, to your professional practice. Stay inspired!

Image showing how scuba diving teaches the respect for life that's so important as a clinician.

About Lewis

Lewis Nasr is a medical student at the Saint Joseph University of Beirut in Lebanon and a current particiant in the Osmosis Medical Education Fellowship program. He is currently leaning towards the Hematology & Oncology specialties. Lewis is an American citizen, but has spent most of his life in Lebanon. He plans to return to the US in the near future to continue building his career there. Outside of medical school, Lewis tries to take in life at its fullest through experiences such as scuba diving, skydiving, and spending time with family and friends. He is currently practicing social distancing and wishes everyone health and safety during this difficult time.

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