Tag Archives: Spring 2014


Winona Wendth Worcester, Massachusetts, United States   Joanna Southcott Drawn from Life by Wm. Sharp Devonshire characters and strange events, Baring-Gould, S (1908), United States Public Domain On December 31, 1814, at 38 Manchester Street in the Paddington section of London, Joanna Southcott lay four days dead. Her body, at one time plump and motherly, […]

Francis Peabody: caring for the patient

“The good physician knows his patient through and through, and his knowledge is bought dearly. Time, sympathy, and understanding must be lavishly dispensed, but the reward is to be found in that personal bond which forms the greatest satisfaction of the practice of medicine. One of the essential qualities of the clinician is his interest […]

A publicly funded health care system of China in 11th to 3rd century BC, as recorded in the Rites of Zhou

Ping Yu Bethesda, Maryland, United States Chi Lu Kentucky, Lexington, United States   The Chou Dynasty, 11th-9th Centuries B.C. In Albert Herrmann (1935). History and Commercial Atlas of China. Since the dawn of history, traditional medicine has been an integral part of the Chinese civilization.1-5 Of particular interest is a publicly funded health care system […]

How will I change three buses to get to that hospital?

Bindu Desai Chicago, Illinois, United States   The call from the emergency room surprised me. In all my years as a neurologist I had never heard of an ‘acute syrinx.’ In a cubicle in the emergency room lay a man in his mid-thirties. He said he had been drinking heavily the night before and, in […]

Pacini’s corpuscles and occult sciences

Gianfranco Natale Paola Lenzi  Italy   Fig 1.Title page of Nuovi organi scoperti nel corpo umano Pacini, 1840; see note 5. Source: Google Books The year 2012 was the bicentenary of the birth of the anatomist and pathologist Filippo Pacini. Born in Pistoia (Tuscany) in 1812, he studied and worked there until 1840; then moved […]

Literature in medical school: why, how, and if

Tabitha Sparks Montreal, Canada      Photography by studioapril1982 Do literature courses in medical school make better doctors? Will the doctors be more sensitive, display more empathy? If so, how is this achieved? And what is the evidence it does so? Since 1980 many educators have supported the integration of humanities coursework into medical school curricula. […]

Connecting literature with medicine

Rubina Naqvi Karachi, Pakistan   Portrait of Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, 1898 Osip Braz Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow There is a need for increasing the education of medical students through the use of literature, so that physicians can become knowledgeable about and eager to confront the social, economic, and cultural contributors to illness. This is particularly important […]

Incurably curious: mystery and drama in clinical case reports

Julia Dahlkamp London, United Kingdom     Thomas Sydenham, 1688 Mary Beale National Portrait Gallery, London Introduction In recent years the genre of the written medical case report1 has come to be regarded as unscientific, a form of anecdotal evidence low in the hierarchy of study designs.2 Clinical geneticists, on the other hand, have emphasized […]

The checklist mentality

Graham T. McMahon Boston, Massachusetts, USA Ruri Ashida    Photography by Daniel Kulinski Whether in Boston or in Tokyo, we share the same joy and swell with pride when we see our students grow into competent clinicians. In our classes we have helped them ask open-ended questions, make eye-contact, express empathy, and learn how to […]

Eliot’s triad: information, knowledge, and wisdom in medicine

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Where is the Wisdom we have lost in Knowledge? Where is the Knowledge we have lost in Information?  Photography by Les Taylor I first saw these well-known lines by T. S. Eliot1 inscribed as a motto on the flyleaf of a Greek textbook on internal medicine. I was a student […]