Archive for the ‘Words of Wisdom’ Category

Letter to New Medical Students (4)

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

In your Clinical Medicine class you will be able to talk to real patients starting next week.  They will know you are first year students and will not expect you to be physicians.  You will learn that you can take a good medical history from a patient even if you have no clue what to do with the information.  This experience highlights the importance of the human qualities you bring to the bedside because you won’t have any medical qualifications at that time.


Letter to New Medical Students (3)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

You can begin learning to care for patients by first caring for each other.  There will be times when a classmate can relate to your life better than anyone else.  To help you get to know each other we will give each of you a booklet containing, for each class member, their name and photograph, home town, undergraduate institution and something personal that they offered to share.


Letter to New Medical Students (2)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The amount of factual material to be presented to you in the next four years is, for practical purposes, infinite.  Even eliminating your need for spouses, friends, family, recreation, hobbies, sleeping, eating, urination and defecation will not give you enough time to learn it all though some have tried.  Therefore you must constantly draw and redraw a line between your medical life and the rest of your life.  A medical career is a constant search for balance between these two worlds and your search for that balance will begin soon.


Letter to New Medical Students (1)

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I teach medical students occasionally, most intensely in a class called the Healer’s Art that was developed by Rachel Remen, MD.  These experiences led me to ideas about education that are presented below as a letter (or speech) to new students on the first day of medical school.  I have never sent this particular letter (or given the speech) but perhaps someday…


Mother Teresa

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Happy New Decade, everyone.  For over 25 years I cared for 4-10 stress illness patients every week.  A big part of the reason for my retirement in August 2009 was the recognition that for every one of them, tens of thousands more were not receiving the care they deserved.  I now work toward changing the training and practice of health care professionals so that this doesn’t continue.  But I knew I would miss the interaction with individual patients. I was reminded of this recently when a friend, who works to alleviate HIV/AIDS in a developing country, included the following quotation in her December holiday letter.


The Mayonnaise Jar and the Two Beers

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, think about this story that is often quoted on the internet.  (If you know the author, please tell everyone by commenting.)


Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Doctor

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

In The Scarlet Letter (1850), Nathaniel Hawthorne describes the physician Roger Chillingworth as he evaluates his patient, the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. His approach is a model for health care professionals who seek to help patients understand and cope with hidden stresses.