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On Being a Doctor |

The Greater Rock of Ages Baptist Church

Anne L. Peters, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine; Los Angeles, CA 90095-1693 (Peters)


Requests for Reprints: Anne L. Peters, MD, 200 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 365, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1693.


Ann Intern Med. 1999;131(1):66-67. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-131-1-199907060-00015
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I work in a busy hospital-based clinic, staffed by a large but competent and consistent group of secretaries, nurses, clerks, and other personnel. When the fiancé of one of the scheduling clerks was killed in an automobile accident, I felt obliged to attend his memorial service. Betty, the employee, was approximately my age, in her late 30s. Although she sometimes seemed overwhelmed by the needs of scheduling (and rescheduling) our many patients, she was always kind and helpful. I knew nothing of her personal life but was told that she had two sons from a previous relationship and had known Jim, her fiancé, for the past 7 years. For an African-American woman struggling to raise two boys in the Los Angeles area, losing the man who had served as their father and role model would be a great tragedy. Working as a physician, I have collected people's life tales as I obtain their medical details. Putting people in their personal context helps me understand how they may internalize the medical advice I dispense. Attending Jim's memorial service provided a large dose of context.

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