Pluck: Lessons We Learned for Improving Healthcare and the World

by Alfred Sadler and Blair Sadler

"An inspiring story of crucial and familiar aspects of the health care system. The Sadler brothers have an engaging story to tell and do so in an enlightening way."

—Kirkus Reviews

(P)luck is a memorable story of the work of two brothers on some of the twentieth century’s most crucial public health and bioethics issues, ending with inspiring lessons for today’s change makers.”

—Foreword Reviews 

"... Fred and Blair Sadler..., a tenacious lawyer-doctor team, share their inspiring quest to fundamentally change public policy and improve modern medicine."

—BookLife Reviews 

Pluck: Lessons We Learned for Improving Healthcare and the World

Pluck is for anyone who aspires to help improve the world around them

As a doctor and lawyer, and identical twin brothers with a history of collaborative teamwork, Alfred and Blair Sadler wrote Pluck to share some of the most important lessons they learned on their journey, which began more than fifty years ago, helping to make major decisions that have had a multigenerational impact on healthcare in the United States.

Pluck brings together the spirit of courage, taking of roads-less-traveled, and living with a mindset focused on possibility that we can all call upon to improve everyday life. It inspires hope and collaboration, as well as meaningful change and action.

Alfred Sadler and Blair Sadler, a doctor and a lawyer, who are also twin brothers, worked together on the early laws concerning organ donation and the first heart transplants, the emergence of the physician assistant profession, the birth of bioethics, and the creation of emergency medicine. In this compelling and stirring book, they take us on a fascinating journey through the National Institutes of Health, Yale University Medical School, The Hastings Center on Bioethics, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In Pluck, the Sadlers recall being in rooms where major changes occurred that have had multi-generational and lifesaving impacts on our country’s healthcare. They describe their roles in helping to lead and accelerate the pace and scale of needed change. The lessons they learned are enduring and relevant today.

Whether you are interested in healthcare, environmental activism, criminal justice reform, economic and racial equity, or education, transformation is possible with the help of the authors’ 15 lessons for catalyzing change that conclude their enriching book.

What people say about it

The behind-the-scenes story of how twin brothers—doctor and lawyer—collaborated with scores of unsung heroes to modernize emergency medical services, help create the physician assistant profession, help write the model law for organ donation and develop other programs that save thousands of lives a year. Pluck is an inspiring model for how to lead major change—a great read, couldn’t put it down.

—James A. Guest, Past President and CEO of Consumer Reports

They reverse engineer their effectiveness…in a series of lessons learned offering guidance for the leadership of change, always emphasizing initiative, optimism, resilience, and above all, cooperation…. No matter which of their several quests they describe, Blair and Fred also reveal a level of agility and creativity that marks the best leaders. They always seem to find a pathway out of paralysis and conflict into shared possibility.

—Donald M. Berwick, M.D. President Emeritus and Senior Fellow Institute for Healthcare Improvement

About the Authors

Alfred Sadler, M.D.

Alfred Sadler, M.D. ScD (Hon) FACP. He is Co-Founder of the Physician Assistant Program at California State University Monterey Bay in 2015 and is President of the Cypress Foundation – dedicated to improving physician and PA workforce in the tri county area where he lives. He was trained in Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and in internal medicine at the Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He practiced primary care in Monterey County for nearly forty years with emphasis on underserved populations. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha and in 2018 was recognized as “Physician of the Year” by the Monterey County Medical Society. He is a coauthor of The Physician Assistant: An Illustrated History in 2013. He lives in Carmel, California.

Alfred Sadler
Blair Sadler

Blair Sadler, J.D.

Blair Sadler, J.D. is a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and a member of the faculty at the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management. Through teaching and presentations, he remains a strong advocate for evidence-based architectural design, healing arts in health care, transforming health care’s environmental impact, and leading with transparency and empathy in times of crisis. A graduate of Amherst College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he was a law clerk for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. From 1980 to 2006, he was the president and CEO of the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. He has served on the board of the Hastings Center for 12 years and is a member of the board of Health Care without Harm, an environmental health advocacy organization. He chairs the Board of Access Youth Academy, a San Diego nonprofit devoted to transforming the lives of underserved youth. He lives in La Jolla, California.

The Healthcare Policy Podcast®

Alfred and Blair Sadler Discuss Their Just Published, "(P)Luck: Lessons We Learned For Improving Healthcare and the World"

(June 7, 2022) (P)Luck moreover details the nine year collaboration between identical twins, Dr. Alfred Sadler and Blair Sadler, an attorney, via their work at NIH,  Yale, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Hastings Center on Bioethics to advance national organ donation and transplantation policy, create the Physician Assistant profession, advance national emergency medical care and address related bioethical issues.   The work also provides insights regarding related challenges these fields face today and provides a list of lessons learned applicable to present day health care problems.

La Jolla Light

‘(P)Luck’: New book by La Jolla resident and twin brother shares life lessons learned in health care

(June 21, 2022) At 81, twin brothers Alfred and Blair Sadler have gleaned much about health care from their years as a medical-legal team working on industry innovations, and in the decades since.

They’ve compiled that knowledge into a primer intended to help those in the health care industry and beyond. Their new book, “(P)Luck: Lessons We Learned for Improving Healthcare and the World,” is due out Tuesday, June 28.

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Sadler brothers revolutionized health care from organ donation to emergency medicine

(June 21, 2022) Twin brothers Blair and Alfred Sadler authored the nation’s organ donation system, helped create a new class of health care workers and pioneered a more effective system of emergency medicine — all by their mid-30s.

It’s an astounding amount of work to cram into a 10-year span, and the details are now available in "(P)LUCK,” the pair’s new book, which published Tuesday.

Literary Hub

19 new books to read in the safety of an air-conditioned room.

(June 28, 2022) I’m looking at the weather for this upcoming week, and oh boy it’s going to be a scorcher! If you’re looking for me, you will find me in the cool embrace of the nearest air-conditioned library/bookstore, where these new books will be available.