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On Being a Doctor |

A Lesson from the Third Year

Eric Helms, MD
[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

From Mountain Area Health Education Center, Asheville, NC 28801.

Current Author Address: Eric Helms, MD, Mountain Area Health Education Center, 93 Victoria Road, Asheville, NC 28801; e-mail, EHelms@mtn.ncahec.org.

Ann Intern Med. 2004;141(9):736. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-141-9-200411020-00021
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During my medicine clerkship, I had the privilege of caring for a man whose case brought up many questions and dilemmas in my mind. Mr. L. was a 70-year-old Chinese man who spoke only Cantonese, but in a dialect that most translators found incomprehensible. He apparently had no family and was in this country illegally. He lived with a group of other Chinese people, all of whom worked for a restaurant and lived with the owners. It was questionable whether Mr. L. had ever seen a western doctor before. He presented to the emergency department with severe abdominal pain, having not voided in some time.





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