Moneeza Walji is CMAJ's editorial fellow 2014-15
Some would say it is strange to remind physicians or health care workers of the humanity of medicine, I would argue with the onslaught of new drugs, new research, and new technology to make medicine a faster evolving machine… we have sometimes forgotten the art of interacting as humans. So when gave a talk at TEDMED 2014 on metaphor and medicine (and language and medicine more broadly) it struck a chord.
During my medical school training I had often heard (sometimes from older and wiser physicians) that the art of the physical exam was dying with the increase in tests that allowed us, at times, to not touch or even see patients before making a diagnosis, let alone speak with them. One physician said we were losing the intimacy in medicine that allowed us to really listen to what was needed from those in our care. Much of what I gleaned from Dr. Verghese’s TEDMED speech was similar, we needed those moments of communication.
Dr. Verghese is Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, at Stanford University Medical School. He is also a best-selling author, having written fiction and non-fiction throughout his career. So when he asked “What is a metaphor?” I found I really wanted to hear his answer. ...continue reading