Healthcare Bowling

healthcare bowling

As I take time to think of the many conversations I have had with healthcare executives, leaders, physicians, and professionals it makes me think of the game of bowling.

Bowling is a game that has a best. It has a limit. Being perfect means that you bowled a 300. No matter how much time, effort, and practice you put into the game, no matter how many times you try, you can never bowl more than a 300.

There are a lot of people in the world that can bowl a “perfect” game. So why anyone decides to become a professional bowler is beyond me, since many other people have the ability to do the same. To be like everyone else. Safety.

Leaders in healthcare tend to be a lot like professional bowlers. Everyone goes to grab a ball, wear a pair of shoes, find the pocket, and talk about how to best roll 10 frames of strikes.

The focus of placing effort to attain a perfect score that can be attained by anyone else that understands the rules and is willing to follow them. The attainment of reaching a predetermined end that is known to all.

There is no extraordinary in being extra ordinary.

Healthcare isn’t about 10 frames, its about the one life in front of you now.

Healthcare occurs at the N of 1.

As always you can feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter @cancergeek



One response to “Healthcare Bowling

  1. As a former professional bowler with 13 300 games and 3 regional professional championships, I intrigued by your comparison between bowling a 300 game and health care.
    While you can’t beat a perfect score, there are many obstacles along the way to a perfect score. For instance, no two bowling lanes are alike, just as no two bowling balls are alike. Depending on the lane pattern (how the lane is oiled) bowling balls will react differently to the lane. In order to achieve the perfect score, the bowler has to make adjustments in where they stand on the approach, what ball they use, and just as important, what speed to throw the ball.

    Now as an advocate for family caregivers and a former caregiver for my partner who passed away from esophageal cancer, I see the similarities you point out between health care and bowling. Just like the lanes are different, every cancer diagnosis and treatment will be different because there are no two patients, or doctors alike. Sure, members of the health care team strive for a perfect score (remittance?) but just like us bowlers, we realize a perfect score is not obtainable every game. However, that does not mean we don’t strive to throw a strike every time we get up to throw the ball, or take on another health care crisis. I would hope the physicians on my health care team would feel the same way and want to juse thow strikes!

    I’m not sure I agree with you when it comes to health care not being in frames? As a family caregiver, there are many different frames to our experience with our health care team, and health care system. The insidious disease we deal with, often comes in frames. Some days we can throw a strike in those frame, sometimes a spare will do. We have to watch out and be careful of those open frames, when there is nothing we can do but hope for another frame, or just another day with the one we love.
    Bowling a 300 game is finite: It’s one game of perfection that lingers on in our memory. Caring for a loved one is infinate, even when there are no more frames to fill.

    Chris MacLellan: I am former professional bowler and proud former caregiver. I never, ever once thought I would get a chance to write about my two life passions at the same time! And the author of “What’s The Deal With Caregiving?”

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