Being from Arkansas originally, I did not grow up with a lot of literature set in my native environment. Unless you count the camouflage clothing catalogue from Bass Pro Shop. So when we read 'Where the Red Fern Grows' in elementary school, it was a bit special because it was about us rednecks.
I don't remember much about the book other than it being sad when the dog died. There was one story that has stuck with me, maybe because it makes a good point about the thinking of too many independent physicians, though I doubt I had this connection in mind when I was in the 4th grade.
In the book, a young boy gets his first hunting dog and needs to get a raccoon pelt in order to train the dog? But how do you get a raccoon if your dog is not yet trained to hunt raccoons?
It turns out there is a way. He is instructed by an old sage to go into the woods and find a fallen tree. There, he is to carve a hole down into the trunk of the tree and drop a shiny washer down into the hole, one that will barely fit. Then he is to take a few nails and hammer them in from the side so they stick out into the hole, making something of a trap.
The raccoon, completely fascinated by the shiny object as they all are (free raccoon trivia here for our city readers…value added!), will tighten his hand into a tight fist and reach down past the nails and into the hole to pick up the washer. But with that in his grasp, he won't be able get his hand back out past the nails. The raccoon will literally not let go of the washer even as the boy walks up and clubs him upside the head.
As silly as that sounds (Drop the washer and run, Bandit! The approaching boy is going to gut you and let his dog chew on your hide!), I was sitting with a group of physicians one night, talking about what it takes to survive in the future and this story came to mind.
We had a long talk about how things are changing and they all seemed to agree. We discussed why independent practices have to get bigger, a lot bigger, if they are to control their own destiny and they seemed to agree. We talked about how none of them wanted to become an employee of the hospital and on this they all clearly agreed.
Then we began to talk about how they could come together as an ACO or a group practice without walls, things that would give them some leverage without their losing most of the real autonomy in their practice. They seemed to get excited.
Then we talked about a few things, relatively minor actually, that they would have to give up in order to make this all happen.
Then the raccoons came out, holding on to stuff that was not important, most of which wasn't even very good anyway. But it was their stuff, so they wouldn't let go. Soon, the energy for coming together dissipated, everyone went home and nothing happened.
Did I tell you the raccoon dies in this story?