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Doctors Afield

Doctors Afield

Mary G. McCrea Curnen
Howard Spiro
Deborah St. James
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Yale University Press
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  • Book Info
    Doctors Afield
    Book Description:

    "Our intent was to provide a book that would let the everyday practitioner understand that he or she had stories to tell, roads to walk, pictures to paint, tunes to play-and that there is life outside, even after, medicine."-from the prefaceThis book examines the lives of twentyseven physicians-twentyone men and six women-who have combined the aim to heal with other pursuits such as art, writing, music, or politics. Their fascinating testimonies illustrate the personal gratification and inspiration that can be gained from integrating medicine with another passionately engaging activity.The book includes a wide array of individuals and interests, from the toymaker A. C. Gilbert and the writer Gertrude Stein to a wine grower, an astronaut, a coin collector, a cabaret singer, and a minister. Most of the stories are told by the principals themselves; the lives of the four deceased subjects are related by others. Although a few physicians tell of giving up medical practice for a new field of endeavor, most attest that the partnership between medicine and another interest has invigorated them and given them new energy to care for and relate to patients.Howard M. Spiro, M.D., professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, andMary G. McCrea Curnen, M.D., D.P.H., clinical professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Yale University School of Medicine, are director and associate director, respectively, of the Program for Humanities in Medicine.Deborah St. Jamesis manager of editorial services, pharmaceutical division, Bayer Corporation.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14751-3
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Thomas P. Duffy

    “What is there odd about being a lawyer and being or doing something else at the same time?” remarked Wallace Stevens, a lawyer, insurance executive and, in the opinion of many, the preeminent American poet of our time. A successful career in the insurance world was not a barrier to his after-hours immersion, writing poetry. Stevens was able to summon his Muse once his insurance workday had ended. Another brilliant American poet, William Carlos Williams, combined a passion for poetry with a professional career as a family doctor. Williams, however, did not accomplish his foray afield as easily as Stevens....

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Mary G. McCrea Curnen and Howard Spiro
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)

    • Why I Paint
      (pp. 2-7)
      Roy Calne

      I decided to be a doctor, specifically, a surgeon, when I was twelve years old. I had always been fascinated by machines and how they worked, and biology gave this fascination a new dimension. Living organisms were far more exciting than engines, and even our teachers could only guess at the way some organs contributed to the well-being of the whole organism. My father was a car engineer and had served as an apprentice at the Rover car company in Coventry; it was from him I learned the hands-on enjoyment of taking mechanical things apart and putting them together again....

    • Making the Scene
      (pp. 8-13)
      Ernest Craige

      Webster’sdefinesafieldas “abroad” or “astray.” To me, however, drawing and painting are intricately involved in the practice and teaching of medicine. I hope to illustrate that relationship here.

      My decision to go into medicine was not difficult. My father was a pediatrician, much beloved by his patients and their families. I had to decide on a career in the depths of the Depression, and although I had been drawing since early childhood, I knew that earning a living with brush or pen would not be easy. On entering the University of North Carolina, I therefore chose the premedical...

    • Life through the Lens
      (pp. 14-26)
      Andrea M. Baldeck

      A sense of adventure led me into the field of medicine, and beyond. Growing up in a farming village where the world was defined by silos and cornfields, I yearned for the faraway and the exotic, as seen in the local library’sNational Geographies. Within these pages I found biographies written for children and became captivated by Albert Schweitzer. Here was someone with several careers, someone who had struck out for unknown Africa to deliver the most potent magic of all: medicine!

      Those grainy black-and-white photographs stirred my imagination like nothing before. Here were lush Kiplingesque jungles and broad waterways...

    • Letting Colors Dance
      (pp. 27-32)
      Mark H. Swartz

      Teaching physical diagnosis for the past twenty years has taught me the principle of inspection—the ability to use my vision to understand the world better. My eye has been trained to look closely at a subject and to see beyond the superficial characteristics. This clinical skill has allowed me to see the world more clearly and to frame my images through the camera with that same critical vision. There is so much a clinician and photographer have in common—the ability, as Sir William Osler said, “to teach the eye to see.”

      One of my typical days at the...

    • In the Mind’s Eye MERGING VISIONS
      (pp. 33-41)
      Barbara Young

      My house on Herring Run in Baltimore is a working home. Patients wait in a living room; I have an office on the second floor; and my computer, the heart of my business activities, is next to my bed. But my home is also a showcase for my photographs: the walls are covered with pictures I have taken, and every nook and cranny is filled with negatives, slides, and enlargements.

      “Painting with a camera” has been an ideal complement to my sedentary life as a psychiatrist. Not only does the camera get me outdoors, but it directs my energies away...

    • From Bone to Stone
      (pp. 42-52)
      Wayne O. Southwick

      When I decided to take up sculpture at the age of fifty-six, my life was already too full: my medical practice was booming, my teaching and academic obligations were more than I could bear, and I was recovering from a fourth operation on my back. But I have always loved the three-dimensional quality of this art form: it has mass, occupies space, and can be seen from many angles. Size, material, surface, and color, along with space, lighting, and surroundings, all profoundly affect its appearance. Sculpture has texture; much of it is appreciated through touch as well as through sight....

  7. 2 MUSIC

    • In the Key of Sea
      (pp. 54-60)
      James J. Cerda

      Western medicine has always focused on the mechanistic aspects of illness and health, with scant regard to human beings as whole systems. But the solution to many medical problems may not lie in the realm of chemical, pharmacological, or even physical therapies. By contrast, the Chinese approach to medicine has always emphasized the mind-body connection, including the influence of the arts. Scholars of the Han dynasty, for example, recognized that music affected the body physiologically by calming the spirit and stimulating circulation.

      Arts medicine is increasingly being recognized as an important synthesis, one that explores the impact of aesthetic stimuli...

    • The Singing Endocrinologist
      (pp. 61-66)
      Alice Levine

      Truth be told, I never dreamt of becoming a doctor. As a child growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950s and 1960s, I imagined myself a famous singer. I enjoyed music from an early age and sang for the sheer joy of it. On cold days, I would wrap a scarf around my face and sing songs to pass the time as I walked to and from school.

      I began college at the State University of New York at Albany in September 1970. During my first year, I remember attending teas in various departments in an effort to choose my...

    • Medicine of the Tuba
      (pp. 67-74)
      Eli Newberger

      I backed into medicine as an undergraduate at Yale. If I’d continued as a tuba player beyond the New Haven Symphony, I’d have ended up counting rests in an orchestra brass section. I never intended to leave music, but I could never have anticipated how my music major, and especially a music theory project on the evolution of jazz piano, would come to influence my choice of specialty and drive my medical career.

      My transition from music to medical school in fall 1962 was eased by marriage to Carolyn Moore and by our summer work as aides in the children’s...

    • Jazzdoc
      (pp. 75-79)
      F. Norman Vickers

      It has been said that there are more musical physicians than one would expect statistically. To me, this makes sense: both music and medicine are strict disciplines. If someone can learn the twelve major scales, then he or she can probably memorize the twelve cranial nerves or the bones of the foot. Much of medicine, when most effectively practiced, is itself an art. As with music, it exceeds the strictly technical and should be performed from the heart.

      Despite my love of making music, I have never had illusions about becoming a professional musician: rather, the idea of becoming a...

    • Self-Confidence under Siege
      (pp. 80-86)
      Elaine L. Bearer

      I am currently a professor at Brown University, where I run a biomedical research lab funded by more than a million dollars in federal and private grants. Brown medical students have to pass the course I teach in systemic pathology in order to graduate. I am also involved in medical practice both at home and abroad: during the academic year I participate in the Brown Pathology Residency Program, and for part of each summer I work as a primary-care provider in the Guatemalan highlands. But I also write music, which was all I had set out to do initially. In...


    • A Prescription for Poetry
      (pp. 88-97)
      Rafael Campo

      The poet is humankind’s first healer, so it has long been perplexing to me that my own engagement with verse should define me as an outsider in relation to today’s medical world. It is usually not my patients who are suspicious of poetry; they are in fact the very ones who are searching desperately for the right words to help them make sense of their afflictions. Rather, some of my physician-colleagues distrust the poetic, especially those who might think they have all the relevant information fully explained in their sterile odds ratios and neatly tabulated significantpvalues. I sometimes...

    • Getting Famous
      (pp. 98-105)
      Michael A. LaCombe

      Some years ago now, having become increasingly frustrated with the decline of traditional medicine and having always turned to writing to vent such frustrations, I began to write what I considered to be learned essays. These essays examined the evils of malpractice, the idiocy of Medicare, the meddling of business into medicine, and the loss of humanism in our profession—topics I felt worthy of publication. I sent them to various leading medical journals and, ready to change the world with my writing, waited for the phone to ring, waited for the interviews, the television appearances.

      The letters of rejection...

      (pp. 106-115)
      Harvey Mandell

      Carlo Graziadio Levi, physician, painter, writer, antifascist, prisoner, exile, senator, and humanist, was born in Turin in 1902 to a Jewish family well established in Italy. Although he received a degree from the medical school in that city in 1924, he had already decided before graduation to abandon medicine for painting. After serving as a medical assistant at the university and spending a requisite year in the military as a medical sublieutenant, he believed he was through with medical practice forever.

      During his student days Levi had been part of a group of artists influenced by Piero Gobetti, a liberal...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • Gertrude Stein and the Ctenophore
      (pp. 116-128)
      Gerald Weissmann

      The photograph shows a score of students in the summer dress of a century ago, collecting specimens at low tide from a harbor near Woods Hole, in Falmouth, Massachusetts. The harbor is Quissett, whose waters today remain rich in marine life. Its heights are still dominated by a Yankee cottage called “Petrel’s Rest,” with its familiar veranda and flagpole. The young people pictured are on a collecting trip for the course in invertebrate zoology at the Marine Biology Laboratory. The photo was taken on July 31, 1897: the young woman in the middle is Gertrude Stein. She has turned and...


    • The Sky’s No Limit
      (pp. 130-142)
      William Thornton

      Faison, North Carolina, was a good place to grow up, especially during the Depression. My father took time to tramp the woods with me, teach me manual skills, and transmit his sense of wonder at natural and constructed phenomena; my mother epitomized personal industry. I was eleven years old when my father died and serious work began; I delivered newspapers, worked as a manual laborer and a theater projectionist and, finally, opened my own radio shop. From earliest childhood I loved airplanes; I could never hear a plane go by without looking up at the sky (and still can’t). My...


    • A Ministry of Healing
      (pp. 144-156)
      Ray A. Hammond and Gloria E. White-Hammond

      Born and raised in Philadelphia, I am the son of a Baptist preacher and a schoolteacher. The words and deeds of both parents instilled in me a love for faith and knowledge. I was taught the old adage that service to others is the rent one pays for being on earth. My pursuit of faith was nurtured by song, sermon, and the search for truth in my own life and in the lives of others. My pursuit of knowledge was nurtured by a schoolteacher-mother who continues to study new subjects to this day and a preacher-father who died in his...

    • Looking for the Red Line
      (pp. 157-165)
      Alan C. Mermann

      In the days of sailing ships, when the Royal Navy ruled the seas, the best ropes, hawsers, and cables were identified by a red line running through them, signifying that they had been made for the navy and thereby assuring their integrity. This red line, a warrant for continuity and confidence, is a metaphor for the religious thread that I trace throughout my life. This life has been—and continues to be—rich and abundant with revelations about myself, my relationships, my work, and my faith.

      As so often happens, an event, observation, or passing phrase crystallizes a vague collection...

    • Priest in the Prison
      (pp. 166-172)
      John L. Young

      “You’re surely working with the poorest of the poor,” observed Peter A. Rosazza, auxiliary bishop of the Hartford Archdiocese, after ordaining a young member of my religious community, the Congregation of Holy Cross, to the priesthood. The statement startled me. Bishop Rosazza knew that I was assigned to work as a psychiatrist at the Whiting Forensic Institute in Middletown, Connecticut, the state’s maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane. His words were confirming, however, because a priest’s basic role is to extend and express the bishop’s ministry. There he was, telling me that he recognized my medical work as a fulfillment...


    • Backpacking to the Capital
      (pp. 174-179)
      David M. Albala

      I awoke to the sound of rain beating against my tent in the Smoky Mountains. More than a month had passed on my quest to hike the full 2,160 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Baxter State Park, Maine. Resisting the temptation to go back to sleep, I went through the chores of making oatmeal in the rain, donning smelly hiking clothes, breaking camp, and stowing everything in my backpack before heading north once more. If there was a lesson to be gained from this long, hard trek, at age twenty-two, it was not yet apparent...

    • A Doctor in the House
      (pp. 180-188)
      Andrew W. Nichols

      I believe that we all want to make a difference. This is why, in spite of initial discouragement and great personal expense, I fought for and won a seat in the Arizona state legislature. It is also why I entered the field of medicine in the first place and why I specialized in public health.

      Early on, my family encouraged the idea of a career in community service. When I was a child, my Uncle Tom told me I had chosen well in wanting to practice the “second most noble profession” of medicine. The only higher calling, in his opinion,...

      (pp. 189-194)
      Teodora Oker-Blom

      In summarizing the full and multifaceted life of my father, I have relied on published interviews and his own writings. Equally valuable were the discussions he and I had over the years, especially during summer holidays on our family island far out on the Finnish archipelago.

      Nils, while still a child in Helsinki, was inspired to become a doctor by the example of the grandfather he had never met, Max Oker-Blom, who died two years before Nils was born. According to Nils’s mother, Max was a physician who radiated empathy and “knew what people felt.” His portrait stood watch in...


    • Afield with Old Maps
      (pp. 196-204)
      Harold L. Osher

      My interest in medicine was kindled during childhood by our family physician, a wise and gentle man whom I idolized. Early in my clinical training, cardiology became my focus; I was impressed with the power and precision of such diagnostic tools as cardiac catheterization and electrocardiography and with the availability of effective cardiac therapy. Here was a field at the vanguard of medical science. I could not have made a better choice; the endless breakthroughs and challenges of the past fifty years have been a continuing source of intellectual stimulation and satisfaction. I have seen our small community hospital evolve...

    • Mingling Medicine and Medals
      (pp. 205-214)
      Ira L. Rezak

      In an uncertain world, expertise and ownership often support a sense of security and can determine status and power. Deciding what we need to know and to possess is a hallmark of our individuality. Such lessons emerged in the course of my professional training as a physician but also derive from my discovery in childhood of the pleasures of numismatics. This latter pursuit has comforted, stimulated, and otherwise benefited me for some fifty years. My numismatic career still vies for my attention alongside my so-called principal profession, medicine. There have been many interactions between the two, and sometimes it’s hard...


    • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way …
      (pp. 216-222)
      George W. Naumburg Jr.

      “When you can buy all the Château Mouton Rothschild you want for less money, why the hell do you want to start a vineyard?” my brother once asked. But wine making, or some similar pursuit afield, must have been in my blood, for I grew up on a farm. Home was Apple Bee Farm, in northern Westchester County, where I spent weekends and summers while attending school weekdays in Manhattan. The farm had cows, horses, chickens, pigs, apples, peaches, bees, a few grapes, vegetables, and my mother’s beloved flower garden. In the days before balers, pitching hay onto the hay...

    • A. C. Gilbert, M.D. TYCOON OF TOYS
      (pp. 223-230)
      Jonathan A. Thomas

      Alfred Carleton Gilbert was a man of diverse parts: showman, idealist, athlete, entrepreneur, and also a graduate of Yale Medical School. His avowed philosophy of life was, “Everything in life is a game, and the important thing is to win.” Although he may no longer be a household name, he exerted a profound influence on the popular culture of the twentieth century. Several generations whose careers were shaped by childhood gifts of chemistry sets, Erector Sets, and his other educational toys stand in his debt. Yet this advocate of science and technology, of the “modern” world, was the product of...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 231-233)