A Country Doctor Reads: May 11, 2019

Soulful Medical Writings

This morning I read a touching essay in The New York Times by an ENT resident at Harvard, Alessandra Colaianni:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/10/well/live/skin-medical-ethics.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

Looking for more of her writings I found a Canadian Journal I will now be checking out on a regular basis:

Ars Medica is a literary journal that explores the interface between the arts and healing, and examines what makes medicine an art.
— Read on ars-medica.ca/index.php/journal/issue/view/29

And then, of course, there is Bellevue Literary Review, edited by a frequent NYT contributor, Danielle Ofri , MD:

Read on blr.med.nyu.edu/content/editors-picks

The Guardian once published a thoughtful piece on the importance of doctors writing about not just diseases but about the human beings who are affected by them:

In the heyday of modernism, doctors lionised specialisation, but patients have now turned to holistic approaches that combine oncology, psychiatry, cardiology, neurology and a variety of alternative treatments. After a long period when we focused primarily on depth of knowledge, we have returned to the importance of breadth of knowledge. In telling the stories of illness, we need to tell the stories of the lives within which illness is embedded. Neither humanism nor medicine can explain much without the other.

A rising literature attempts to reconcile these modes of thought. Voltaire complained, “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.” But a new run of books attempts to address the last clause of Voltaire’s challenge. Such writings may not be remarkable as either medical information or writing, but they rightly insist that coherence sits at the intersection of science and art.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/22/literature-about-medicine-may-be-all-that-can-save-us

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.

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