Only Half a Physician

“You’re only half a physician if you’re just good at your craft. Unless it’s coupled with patient-centered care and humanism, it’s suboptimal care.”
– Arnold P. Gold, MD

I happened to read an obituary in The New York Times this morning about a pediatrician who started the tradition of introducing swearing of the Hippocratic Oath at white coat ceremonies early on in American medical schools instead of just at graduation.

I added him to my mental list of imaginary mentors.

“Dr. Gold, who treated patients and taught for more than 50 years at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, part of Columbia University Medical Center, had a cheerful but authoritative demeanor. On rounds, he wanted to know about the life of the patient, not just his vital signs. He talked face to face with his young patients, often sitting on the floor and playing with them.
“He enjoyed kids and he dealt with them in a wondrous way,” Dr. David Mandelbaum, a former student of Dr. Gold’s at Columbia who is a professor of neurology and pediatrics at the Brown University Alpert Medical School, said in a telephone interview. “He always sensed what a kid was able to do, not what he couldn’t do.”
He was also concerned with the patients’ parents, spending time, for example, to understand the effects that a neurologically damaged child’s condition had on their marriage and finances. And if he could not give them hope, he gave them answers.”

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