In doing research for a Grand Rounds needs assessment on humanism in medicine, I re-acquainted myself with a classic lecture by Dr. Francis Peabody, "The Care of the Patient" published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (Peabody, FW: The Care of the Patient. JAMA 1927; 88:877–882.)
The words that Peabody spoke to his students in 1927, as Peabody himself faced his own mortality, having been diagnosed with cancer at age 45, are resonant and worthy of daily reminder for any of us involved in caring for patients, designing care models, influencing benefit plans, organizing systems of care, integrating technology into patient care, or serving in adminstrative leadership.
“Medicine is not a trade to be learned, but a profession to be entered,” he told his students. “The treatment of a disease may be entirely impersonal; the care of a patient must be completely personal.... the secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”
Steven R. Peskin, MD, MBA, FACP, is associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and is governor of the American College of Physicians, New Jersey South.