Practical Pointers in Medicine Over Seven Decades: Reflections of an Individual Physician

Practical Pointers in Medicine Over Seven Decades: Reflections of an Individual Physician

Richard James (Davidson, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-097-6.ch013
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This chapter illustrates a life in medical practice and emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning in medicine through sharing of lived experiences. The life narratives display the authors own observations of what he has learned and unlearned over the years. Also added are observations about his retirement project - editing and publishing abstracts of the current primary care medicine literature - that exemplifies the need for health care professionals to continue sharing life-long.
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Early Life

Dr. Wertman was our family doctor. His office was in his home on Main Street in our small Eastern Pennsylvania town. We seldom went to his office. He came to our home when my parents called him to attend to our usual childhood illnesses. I remember the large black bag he carried. It contained, in addition to his stethoscope and other instruments, rows of bright pills in little bottles lining both sides of the bag. This amazed us. After the usual history and examination, he would open one or two pill bottles and dispense what we needed. I did not know what the pills were, but we recovered with their help, or in spite of them.

After the formality of the visit, he would relax and chat with us. He seemed to be part of the family. He talked with a heavy Pennsylvania Dutch accent. On one occasion he described a camping trip he and his family enjoyed. Insects were the only down-side of the week. With his accent, he did not call them insects or bugs; he called them “buks”. I innocently asked him “What’s ‘buks’”? My family howled with laughter at my innocence and Dr. Wertman’s chagrin.

When he got ready to leave, my brother and I would ask him to give us another pill. He would solemnly take two little pills out of one of the bottles and present one to each of us. We did not know what the pills were. Later we suspected they were a mild laxative.

As we grew, he began to call my brother “the preacher” and call me “the doctor”. He became my role model. At the age of 12, I decided to become a doctor. This smoothed and straightened my life-path. I did not waiver. I worked and studied hard, and was admitted to a prestigious medical school at an early age.

I am still grateful for this early opportunity to decide my life-path.

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