Chapter 2

Patients First as True North

Imagine the practice of medicine a hundred years ago: a time before antibiotics, complicated imaging, and the advent of miracle drugs that cure disease or at least significantly alter its course. There’s a picture I use in presentations of a solo practitioner walking through a farmyard carrying the iconic black medical bag. Most of the medical miracles of a hundred years ago were contained in that black bag, but most of the healing that doctors did rested in the hands that carried the bag and the relationships and interactions that the physician had with patients and families.

As the leading early-twentieth-century physician, researcher, teacher, and humanitarian Francis Weld Peabody observed to a group ...

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