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image: Departments headerA goateed student smiles and admits that his family already turns to him for advice. He asks the two doctors if they ever treat their relatives. "I don't treat my family as a general rule, and I let that be known," Wood declares, though during his mother's recent illness, he made a point to listen carefully to the doctors, ready to intervene if it seemed necessary. "I don't prescribe antibiotics for my family," Lickerman says, "but I do examine knees." He adds that when his mother found a lump in her breast a few years ago, he'd clinically explained to her what was happening. She later told him that what she'd really wanted was more emotional support.

"Is that a doc thing or a guy thing?" interrupts thanatologist Kyle Nash. The guest lecturer for the class on caring for the dying, she sits in on every class. "Doc thing," Lickerman grins.

A premed undergraduate jumps in with a story of being at the Hospitals with food poisoning. He appreciated having friends who waited with him through the wee hours after insisting he go to the ER--something that as a premed, he says, he was reluctant to do.

"The hesitancy to go to the doctor right away--is that a premed thing or a guy?" Nash quips, again drawing laughter from the table, before Wood asks what the student learned from the experience. Though he'd liked being talked to as an adult, he replies, he would also have liked the doctor to check up on him more often.

Next, a medical student in a navy T-shirt presents a dilemma. His brother, already a doctor, had a friend die of heart failure. The brother wasn't sure that his friend's doctors had done everything they should have. The instructors debate whether, when, and how the brother should have become involved. That prompts another med student to note that patients should make sure they have advocates. "As a physician, you don't like that, because it makes your job harder. But I think as a patient, it helps you get what you need."

The room falls silent. "That turned from a period of quiet reflection into a good exchange," Wood comments, marking the close of the discussion.

Now it's Lickerman's turn to lead the class. A primary-care physician at the Hospitals and a practicing Buddhist since 1989, he is today's guest speaker. The broad topic is "The Psycho-Spiritual Condition of the Physician and Patient in the Healing Interaction." Lickerman will be speaking from a Buddhist perspective and encouraging students to examine how to use their own religious backgrounds in their practice of medicine.

He begins by explaining the Buddhist concept of "life condition" and how it helps him to achieve balance in his life and a sense of inner calm--things doctors often find in short supply.

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  JUNE 2000

  > > Volume 92, Number 5


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Hyde Park revisited
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Hugo Sonnenschein
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Pan-Asian persuasion

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