Saturday, October 31, 2009

Guest Blog: Advice to the Young Physician

Richard Colgan, MD, is a practicing family physician, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Education in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He is a Past President of the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians and serves as editor-in-chief of the Maryland Family Doctor. This guest post is excerpted from the conclusion to his recently published book, Advice to the Young Physician, which he describes as a book "for those who believe that there is an art to medicine, but are not sure where to turn to learn where to find it, beyond the role modeling which their exemplary teachers display. By looking through the history of medicine, the author identifies some of the recurring themes of the art of medicine, as taught or displayed by some of history's greatest physicians." You can preview the book's cover on my Shelfari bookshelf.



God, let me begin each clinical encounter by always putting my patient's needs first. Grant me the strength to not be seduced by the allure of worldly pleasures, so as to be the best healer I can be, as I look to be thorough and careful in practicing my art. Guide me as I practice this sacred vocation. May I have the wisdom to learn from the lessons of my teachers, as I contemplate how to best serve each person who seeks my counsel. Help me to use all of my senses as I strive for excellence in caring for my patients, and to understand that if I cannot help someone, then at a minimum I will do no harm.

Strengthen me to have an inner and outer calmness when faced with the inevitable difficulties that lie before me. Show me how to best educate my patients on how to live longer and healthier lives, while being open to learning from those whom I serve. Show me how to be temperate and modest as I look to assist nature by incorporating proper diet, exercise and my patient's own resources in their overall care. Never let me forget that I am caring for someone who is suffering from a disease, and not taking care of a disease.

May I never forget my duty to practice medicine based upon a conviction of pursuing altruistic beneficence, marked by showing compassion for others as I commit myself to a life of service. May I not abandon, but look to serve the poor and advocate for those who suffer because of disparities in our health care system. Remind me to keep matters between physician and patient confidential and that I am accountable for my actions. May I always show respect and care for myself and my family, while being kind in my everyday interactions with others.

I ask you for humility in knowing the limitations of my art. May I always end each encounter with my patient knowing that I have done my best in assisting you by applying the bandages, while taking comfort in the fact that only power greater than I heals.

- Richard Colgan

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