Philosophy and ethics

For content related to philosophy, ethics.

Blogging credo

Here are the principles and guidelines I follow when blogging here on my blog.

Truth and accuracy: Everything I write is as accurate and truthful as I can manage, with some important exceptions noted below. (Note: not all my posts are about subjects where this is pertinent.) I welcome comments with suggestions and corrections. If I discover an error, I will either leave the original and add the correction, or make the correction and add a note explaining what was corrected and why.

Reflections on retirement

Since I retired, I have repeatedly been asked two questions. “How do you like retirement?” and “Don’t you miss practicing medicine?”

Intolerance at the hairdresser

This week, waiting at a local hairdresser for my appointment, I had an unnerving experience.

Two women came in together and sat down. They were talking enthusiastically about the previous night’s State of the State address by Governor Lepage, pleased with how well he spoke and looking forward to some of his promises. At one point, one of the women said: “It’s too bad they won’t let him do what he wants. If they did, he’d get rid of all those Somalis.”

Memo to my successor

You are about to have the honor and great pleasure of working with a group of patients I have come to know and respect over the years. While I cannot tell you how to practice medicine, I feel no reluctance to tell you what made it so worthwhile for me.  

Ignorance and black cats

Science is not a linear or predictable path to truth.

My compass

As a physician for 35 years, I have strived to live up to a quote I first heard from my father: the goal in medicine is to cure sometimes, to relieve often, and to comfort always. During my more than three decades of practice, I have learned that one must combine a willingness to care and ability to hear with an offer to help in order to comfort – let alone occasionally heal. It has been - and continues to be - a glorious and fulfilling career. But it has not been easy or without pain, confusion, fear, or despair.

Discovery

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." 

André Gide (1869-1951)


 

Dear (Patient) John letter

This imaginary letter, penned after attending a Quality Initiative meeting, is fictional today, but I suspect something like it will appear in the near future and be sadly common within five years. I hope I have retired by that time, because it would be truly shameful to actually sign and send such a letter.


Dear (computer generated patient name),

I am writing to express my deepest regret that I can no longer serve as your PCP.  I will continue to provide you with all appropriate care during the next sixty days while you arrange an alternative provider.

Speaking truth

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

(George Orwell)

Why I argue

I have been called argumentative, disputatious, a vexatious nuisance, oppositional, a disagreement looking for an opportunity, and far worse.

 With these descriptions, I would not argue. The folks who say these things are correct. But I wonder if they know why I like to argue?

Not to win. Not to prove a point. Not to sell a position. Not to convince.

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