Volume 2, Issue 1

Feature stories and reflections

Risus sardonicus

Prof. Arunachalam Kumar

K. S. Hegde Medical Academy, Mangalore, India

Image of gold necklace

…. I sat down, waiting. Idleness soon had me looking at the limp body. It was bedecked in the finest silk and brocade. On the wrinkled neck lay the most massive gold chain I had ever seen. More…

Big Hugh

Dr. Denis Gill

Dublin, Ireland

A typical pub in Ireland.Big Hugh and I met at a small pub …. I slowly savoured a pint of Guinness while he downed a Smithwicks beer. We exchanged words about the weather, fish catches, and road accidents in Inishowen — non-committal conversation between men who were strangers. More…

Remembering an uncrowded world

Aroop Mangalik, MD

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Image of trees in a forest

My father had hopes for me, hopes that I would see what he did not, achieve what he could not, enjoy comforts he only read about. In his day, there were few people who lived in the village, and some did not have enough to eat and had to work hard to grow their food. More…

The patient on the brink

Dr. P. Ravi Shankar

Kist Medical College, Nepal

A look over the Western Ghats of India.It was to this hospital in the village of Ellakkal that Ramu, a short, swarthy, muscular man in his thirties, came complaining of fever and severe muscle pains…. He was decidedly worse by evening rounds. More…

Simple gestures: a nursing student’s journey through the ICU

Elizabeth Cambier, RN

Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois

Our professions allow us to read between the lines of our patient’s lives and peer into the anxiety of their families. They allow us to offer those simple gestures that are healing in themselves. More…



Her name was Krystal

Laura Monahan, RN

Rockford, Illinois

Her name was Krystal; she was four years old. She was in the hospital, for another surgical procedure. I was a student nurse on my pediatrics rotation, and she was the patient that most amazed me. She was so used to the hospital setting—unlike me. More…

The unconscious eater: The modern glutton

Goutham Rao, MD

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania

One Monday morning a lady named Elaine called me in my office. She was in town for a few days and was a journalist interested in writing a story for a Chicago-based magazine on childhood obesity and wanted to interview me. I agreed to meet her for lunch the next day in the restaurant of the hotel where she was staying. I arrived on time but Elaine was already seated at a table in one corner. She was a very large woman who looked to be about fifty-five. More…


Medicine and literature

Emily Dickinson’s mystifying in-sight

Image of Emily Dickinson Larry Zaroff, MD, PhD and Tony Chan

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

In “I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –,” Emily Dickinson manifests her mystifying insight into the physiology of the death of vision, going beyond death and living to talk about it. Remarkably, her poetic vision provides insights into the function of eyesight that parallels what is currently known of ophthalmic physiology. More…


Medical history

Comparison of ancient Mesopotamian and Hippocratic medicine

Hippocrates.Burton R. Andersen, MD

University of Illinois, Chicago

An exploration of Hippocratic and Mesopotamian medical writing reveals interesting differences in emphasis on the description of signs and symptoms, disease classification and treatment, and use of surgery. This article will explore some of these differences through the writings of Hippocrates and other practitioners in the Hippocratic School and the medical writings from ancient Mesopotamia. More…

Ramazzini & the birth of occupational medicine

Dr. Luciano Daliento

University of Padua, Italy

Bernardino Ramazzini, considered to be the founder of occupational and industrial medicine, spearheaded the revival of the medical sciences, but encountered strong resistance from the adherents of the ancient Galeno-humoral theories. More…

A Norse and Dutch friendship

Dr. Ludvig Hektoen

Jan Peter Verhave, PhD

Radboud University Medical School, The Netherlands

Renowned pathologist Ludvig Hektoen maintained a vast correspondence with science writer Paul de Kruif. In 1922, de Kruif had written a story on vaccines where he accused the manufacturer of murder. He and the editors were being sued. An appeal was made to Dr. Hektoen, who was also a medico-legal expert. More…


Art and medicine


CordiformVesna Jovanovic

Chicago, Illinois

The randomness of spilled ink combined with the control of intricate drawing exemplifies my approach to art and science. In art as in science, there is a constant struggle to leave some things to chance. More…

Cutter of Lilacs

Cutter of Lilacs.Bruce Erikson

Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio

Cutter of Lilacs depicts three realities: lived, remembered, and projected. It portrays fragmented histories of my grandfather’s procession into old age. More…



Poetry and healing

Image of sailboat out at sea with rays of light shining through dark clouds

Whether it is coping with the death of a life partner or a patient, working through a life-changing diagnosis or dealing with our genetic fate, writing offers healthcare providers and patients a path to healing. Stories about pain and joy help us to acknowledge the humanness that courses through all of us. We compose poetry to remember loved ones, patch old wounds, and to find a way to make sense of the past. In this selection of poetry pieces by doctors, nurses, teachers, students, and patients, our poets take us through their personal journeys of healing.

Theresa Wyatt

Theresa Wyatt is a retired teacher and former visual artist. Her diverse career spanned a study in Siena, Italy, to teaching positions in Tehran, Iran. After a diagnosis of Neurofibromatosis, Type 2, Theresa returned to writing poetry as a therapeutic venue. More…

James Rickert, MD

James Rickert is a practicing orthopedist in Bloomington, IN. Writing poetry has helped him face the physical suffering, loneliness, and fear he went through during the final days of his stem cell transplant for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. More…

Paul Rousseau, MD

Paul Rousseau is a hospice and palliative medicine physician and sees suffering on a daily basis, which is often callous and brutal. He uses writing, particularly essays and poetry, as a way to heal and continue to confront the daily debris of terminal disease. More…

Stacy Nigliazzo

Writing has always been a great source of comfort and healing for Stacy Nigliazzo. As an ER nurse, Stacy writes to remember the lessons she has learned from her patients’ stories. More…

Ted McMahon, MD

Ted McMahon is a Seattle pediatrician. Poetry, for Ted, is a discipline that demands the cultivation  of a certain kind of attention to detail – the kind of attention he strives to bring to his clinical encounters in medicine. More…

Anne Herbert

Anne Herbert is currently pursuing a career in medicine. Writing allows her to express difficult feelings especially related to the scars left by her cleft palate and lip. More…


Opinion pieces

“(w)holistic”: the coining & the connotations

Richard Sobel, MD

Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Holistic philosophy states that “what a thing is in its sum is of greater importance than its component parts.” In this philosophy, nature is regarded as consisting of constantly evolving wholes that are greater than their parts. More…

Is it ethical to bring religion into medicine?

Patrick Guinan, MD

University of Illinois, Chicago

At the beginnings of recorded history, the priests and the doctor were one and the same, curing body and soul, or at least pretending to do so. By the time of Hammurabi some differentiation in function had occurred. The physician became distinct from the priest. More…