Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

I Am the Very Model of an Up-to-Date Physician

Martin Duke
Mystic, Connecticut, United States


Poet’s statement: Perhaps the most memorable moments of Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera presentations occur in their humorous patter songs, usually written as a rapid succession of rhythmic patterns and tongue-twisting lyrics sung at a fast tempo. With due apologies to the lyricist Sir William S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and the composer Sir Arthur S. Sullivan (1842–1900), I have attempted a tongue-in-cheek imitation of one of the most famous of these songs—“I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major-General” from The Pirates of Penzance—retitled “I Am The Very Model Of An Up-To-Date Physician.”


I am the very model of an up-to-date physician
I am the very model of an up-to-date physician,
I can tell you when a patient’s worse or entering remission,
I always find a way to demonstrate my erudition
When describing lungs and hearts and diseases of nutrition.
I quote from every journal in its latest e-edition,
And rattle off the data like an expert statistician.
I always try to do my best, it is my fond ambition,
To be certain I am correct when diagnosing a condition.
I take a careful history and can perform hypnosis,
And recognize the patient with a troublesome neurosis.
In short, as a psychiatrist, FP or obstetrician,
I am the very model of an up-to-date physician.I’m very well acquainted too with fields that end in ‘ology,
In cardio- and dermato- and gastroenterology,
I follow all the research being done in immunology,
As well as what is current in molecular biology.
I’m aware of all the works of Freud and others in psychology,
I know what drugs to use from having studied pharmacology.
I’ve trained in rheumatology as well as radiology,
And understand the problems that are faced in gerontology.
I use the best equipment and the most advanced technology
When engaged in procto- and electrophysiology.
In short, be it neurology or epidemiology,
I do enthusiastically whatever ends in ‘ology.My research has appeared in many journals scientific,
I treat all colds and piles and any joint that is arthritic,
I have a fascination for whatever’s pathological,
And all accept my judgment as without a doubt most logical.
I took the Hippocratic Oath, my conduct is most ethical,
Whenever facing issues that are real or problematical.
Committees that accredit me I always strive to put at ease
By being sure I’ve taken all the necessary CMEs.
According to my patients I’m the finest and the brightest,
At treating all their aches and pains and every kind of ‘itis.
In short, in my profession with its long and proud tradition,
I truly am a model of an up-to-date physician.



Photography by Elvire R.



MARTIN DUKE, MD, FACP was a 1954 graduate of the New York University School of Medicine. Following residencies in medicine and pathology and a fellowship in cardiology, he was in private practice in Manchester, Connecticut from 1963–1993, served as director of Medical Education and chief of Cardiology at the Manchester Memorial Hospital, and held a teaching position at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He is the author of two books and numerous medical articles and was the editor of the collection “Reflections on Medicine: Essays by Robert U. Massey, MD,” a recipient of a 2012 Will Solimene Award for Excellence in Medical Communication from the New England Chapter of the American Medical Writers Association. He is also on the editorial board of Connecticut Medicine: The Journal of the Connecticut State Medical Society.


Highlighted in Frontispiece Summer 2012 – Volume 4, Issue 3
Summer 2012  |  Sections  |  Poetry

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