on the patient and the disease, as well as the physician
and fluorescent-lit, seminar
room 313 in the Donnelley Biological Sciences Learning Center
feels like a hospital examining room, sans the smell of antiseptic.
Over the course of ten minutes, about a dozen students in jeans
and knit shirts filter into the room, taking seats around the
rectangular table. They're joined by professor of medicine Lawrence
Wood, who specializes in pulmonology and critical care, and assistant
professor of clinical medicine Alex
Lickerman, SB'88, MD'92.
is really the Buddhist equivalent
of major depression," Lickerman says,
likening Buddhism to "the ultimate psychologist."
everybody. It's 2:05 and time to start our 2 o'clock seminar,"
announces Wood, a big man with white hair and beard. The faculty
dean for medical education and a practicing Christian, Wood developed
this course--Spirituality and Healing in Medicine--and is its
director. An elective offered to medical-school students each
spring on a pass/fail basis, the course is also open to undergraduates.
Now in its fourth year, it runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. each Monday.
opens the floor by asking if the week's reading, an article on
the Ten Worlds of Buddhism, brought to mind any experiences from
the students' medical education. The students keep journals in
which they're to write thoughts and feelings inspired by the readings.
Weekly topics range from alternative medicine to praying with
responds to Wood's bid, so he starts the discussion by sharing
something from his own journal. The day before, Easter Sunday,
his sister called to tell him that their mother had been taken
to the hospital. In addition to talking to Wood's sister, the
doctor called Wood and made sure the cardiologist called too,
impressing Wood: "This is a sensitive way to relate to patients
that I would like to incorporate into my being as a physician."
Lickerman, sitting to Wood's left at the head of the table, has
a related story. During a recent visit to his parents, his mother
developed chest pain, a rash, and swelling in her throat after
taking a cold medicine. "I was astounded at how nervous I became.
By the time you're an attending, you usually have an impenetrable
shell," he says. "It was very difficult to play the roles of son