12 Oct Physician Revives a Dying Art: The Physical
The New York Times | October 11 – Dr. Verghese is the senior associate chairman for theory and practice of medicine at Stanford University. He is also the author of two highly acclaimed memoirs “My Own Country” and “The Tennis Partner,” and a novel, “Cutting for Stone,” which is now a best seller.
At Stanford, he is on a mission to bring back something he considers a lost art: the physical exam. The old-fashioned touching, looking and listening – the once prized, almost magical skills of the doctor who missed nothing and could swiftly diagnose a peculiar walk, sluggish thyroid or leaky heart valve using just keen eyes, practiced hands and a stethoscope.
Art and medicine may seem disparate worlds, but Dr. Verghese insists that for him they are one. Doctors and writers are both collectors or stories, and he says his two careers have the same joy and the same prerequisite: “infinite curiosity about other people.” He cannot help secretly diagnosing ailments in strangers, or wondering about the lives his patients lead outside the hospital.
“People are endlessly mysterious,” he said in an interview in his office at the medical school, where volumes of poetry share the bookshelves with medical texts, family photos and a collection of reflex hammers.
His sources of inspiration include W. Somerset Maugham and Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. In addition to his medical degree, he has one from the writing workshop at the University of Iowa.
He is out to save the physical exam because it seems to be wasting away, he says, in an era of CT, ultrasound, MRI, countless lab tests and doctor visits that whip by like speed dates. Who has not felt slighted by a stethoscope applied through the shirt, or a millisecond peek into the throat.
Read more on NYTimes.com.