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On Being a Doctor |

Just Beyond the Next Bend in the River: Reflections on a Medical Career

Lockhart B. McGuire, MD
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Requests for Reprints: Marcia Day Finney, Office of the Vice President, Box 179, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, VA 22908.

†Dr. McGuire died on 29 April 1990. After Dr. McGuire's death, Marcia Day Finney assumed the responsibility of editing the manuscript for publication.

© 1991 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1991;114(1):83-87. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-114-1-83
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This excerpt has been provided in the absence of an abstract.

Vignettes or anecdotes often lack the authority of objective, analytic forms of writing. Nevertheless, we physicians sometimes feel compelled to offer these kinds of stories from our experience. Although medical vignettes may not illustrate general principles, they often contain glimpses of truth, unexpected combinations of human frailty and strength, and interesting blends of irony and idealism. Their message is one of a pervasive particularity and unpredictability in a world that looks to science for predictability and control.

As Sir William Osler observed, "To practice medicine on patients without the study of books is to sail an uncharted sea, but to






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