This article appears in the July issue of JAAPA.
My colleague is dying. He’s not just a colleague; he’s a dear friend as well, even though I don’t often see him outside of work. At least I didn’t until he was too sick to come in to the office. Now I visit him eve
ry weekend. I always take him something yummy to eat because his appetite is failing, along with his breathing and his strength.
Pepe recently began in-home hospice care. The other day (nicely paraphrasing Francis W. Peabody1) he said to me, “You know, Ellen, I think the secret to hospice care is that they love the patients.” As I’ve spent time with Pepe in recent weeks, I have been reminded of the importance of this principle.
We exhort parents who wish to raise loving and generous children to act lovingly and generously toward them. Similarly, modeling caring behavior for our students is one of the most potent ways to encourage them to act that way toward their patients.2
Medical education has undoubtedly evolved since I was a student, but I suspect much of the boot-camp atmosphere remains. Although I have many positive memories from the time and remember some wonderful mentors, I do not recall an atmosphere of warmth and caring at school. Nor was I ever hugged by a superior. If I received love from my medical school teachers, it was usually of the tough variety.
Read the rest of the article in JAAPA.