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HERE’S WHY TO ASK ‘WHY?’

A keen sense of curiosity can advance health, happiness and relationships

If you’re like me, you are constantly asking questions. For example, what is my password? Who let the dog(s) out (again)? Why are the answers posed as questions and the questions posed as answers on TV’s “Jeopardy”?*

In this, Optometric Management’s “Question & Answer” (Q&A) issue, we not only address questions, we also want to celebrate curiosity, which is “a motivator for learning, influential in decision-making and crucial for healthy development,” write Drs. Celeste Kidd and Benjamin Y. Hayden in the Neuron article, “The Psychology and Neuroscience of Curiosity.”

WHY CURIOSITY?

Curiosity is linked to happiness, achievement, empathy, relationships, health and survival, says Emily Campbell, Ph.D., a research associate at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. Inc. Magazine contributing editor Geoffrey James likens curiosity to “a Swiss Army knife with all the attachments.”

With regard to medicine, “curiosity leads. . . to great stories and memories, those irreplaceable ‘moments in medicine’ that we all live for,” writes Faith T. Fitzgerald, M.D., in the Annals of Internal Medicine, In short, she says, “Both the science and the art of medicine are advanced by curiosity.”

Is curiosity also an important trait for staff? As it’s our Q&A issue, let’s answer the question with questions: Would you hire a candidate who didn’t ask questions during a job interview? If patients are drawn to those who show an interest in them, then shouldn’t curiosity be a requirement for those staff members who deal directly with patients?

ENCOURAGING QUESTIONS

One highly effective way to encourage curiosity is to answer questions enthusiastically. To that end, this issue of OM is devoted to answering the top practice questions posed by you, our readers. (See p.14 for the details.) Taking a big-picture view, consider making curiosity a part of a daily routine. Those small changes that encourage questions and inspire learning can plant the seed for your next innovation. OM

*According to Smithsonian Magazine, TV host Merv Griffin and his wife Julian came up with the idea for “Jeopardy” as an alternative to quiz shows, which had virtually disappeared from TV after the answer-rigging scandals of the 1950s. (Apparently, it’s a lot tougher to “fix” questions than answers.)