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On Being a Doctor |

Distant Wheezes

Daniel M. Kaplan, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710.


Requests for Single Reprints: Daniel M. Kaplan, MD, Hospital Medicine Program, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Box 100800, Durham, NC 27710; e-mail, d.m.kaplan@duke.edu.


Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(8):560. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-155-8-201110180-00017
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To prepare the mind for medicine, nothing surpasses bird watching—birding, to its active practitioners. Both birding and diagnosis demand and reward many of the same traits. Each vocation brings its world into sharp focus and provides endless variety. To study birds and their migrations is to have one's finger on the pulse of the planet. The ICD-9 and the world's avifauna each contain nearly 10 000 entries—if you include such terms as “accident involving spacecraft” and “diabolical nightjar,” respectively. Birds and infections achieve dazzling and confounding diversity in the tropics. Each may gain latitude and altitude with climate change. Both invite endless discovery, the occurrence of each bird and malady often routine but occasionally stunning.

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