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By Aaron Bright on January 11, 2020

Medicine as humanity

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 in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.” -Dr. Francis Weld Peabody, 1927

The Hippo Education crew took a well-deserved retreat to New Orleans this past week. As a remote company we treasure the opportunity to come together IRL. The company was wonderful, the city fascinating, and the beignets plentiful.

One of the highlights was this medical museum. The gentleman that gave us the tour was phenomenally knowledgeable. The whole experience motivated me to start looking for a good book on medical history. While I was doing that research I came across, once again, the quote above by Dr. Peabody. I think it’s worth a deep look. (I do wish it had more inclusive pronouns but, you know, 1927).

Lots of things about this quote stick with me.

That a physician’s knowledge is bought dearly. So true. That time, sympathy, and understanding should be “lavishly” dispensed. So true, and so hard now. That the reward is the bond with the patient. Holy curse word, so true and so challenging to forge that bond in a modern rushed setting.

The last sentence is beautiful.

One of the essential qualities of the clinician is his interest in humanity, for the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.

An interest in humanity. I think that is as deep as it gets. As medical practitioners we tend to have a deep interest in humanity. I often have a tough time describing that but it is just that. I am fascinated by what makes humans tick psychologically, spiritually, and physically.

What we’re trying to do at my company is to focus on the humanity of the people doing this clinical work. What do they (we) need? Education to start. A deep foundational education helps us focus on the rest of the stuff in this quote.

But, I highlight this quote here to bring our attention, for a moment, back to the real reason we do this work. And, to see if we can look at our extremely busy patient care day through a different lens, if only briefly. The road was long and hard to get here. The deeper rewards are, and should be great. We are here for the humanity of it, in all of its messy reality.

Maybe if we meditate on that quote for a moment, we’ll gain some perspective. I think it speaks volumes. It makes me proud.



Published by Aaron Bright January 11, 2020