Howard Spiro, MD
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Spiro H. The Heavenly Ladder. Ann Intern Med. 2002;137:858. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-137-10-200211190-00025
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2002;137(10):858.
Coulehan J. 64 pages. Canberra, Australia: Ginninderra Pr; 2001. $11.00. ISBN 1740270991. Order at http://www.ginninderrapress.com.au.
Field of medicine: Poetry.
Format: Softcover book.
Audience: Practicing physicians, medical students, and others in the medical field who want to share the humanity of their patients and discover why most clinicians find so much gratification in their work.
Purpose: To present poetry inspired by clinical experience and reflective encounters with patients and writers.
Content: This slim book contains almost 50 poems divided into four sections. The title and cover art are derived from a Byzantine icon of the heavenly ladder leading to Paradise with a number of would-be saints falling away. I have likened that same icon to academic progress, during which acolytes who do not publish enough perish into perdition. Coulehan, on the other hand, gives words to the perilous climb and the unfulfilled yearning of those who have not done enough to merit salvation—or promotion. The difference between us suggests his optimism and love for most of the world around him.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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