UPDATE – 10:30 AM: The profile is currently the most e-mailed story on the Times’ website.
Stanford’s Abraham Verghese, MD, is featured as a “Scientist at Work” in today’s New York Times. In the profile, writer Denise Grady discusses Verghese’s dual career as author and physician (both which require an “infinite curiosity about other people”), his path getting there (“You were a doctor, engineer, lawyer or a failure,” he said of the high expectations put on him by his family), and his mission to restore the “lost art” of the clinical exam:
He is out to save the physical exam because it seems to be wasting away, he says, in an era of CT, ultrasound, M.R.I., countless lab tests and doctor visits that whip by like speed dates…
Stanford recruited him in 2007, in large part because of his enthusiasm for teaching the exam. He seized the bully pulpit.
Much has been written about Verghese, but I found Grady’s account of Verghese’s work during the early days of the AIDS epidemic – a time described in his first book, My Own Country – particularly moving:
He came to know many of his patients and their families. He visited their homes, attended their deaths and their funerals. One patient, near death, awoke when Dr. Verghese arrived, and opened his shirt to be examined one last time.
“It was like an offering,” Dr. Verghese said, with tears in his eyes. “To preside over the bed of a dying man in his last few hours. I listen, I thump, I don’t even know what I’m listening for. But doing it says: ‘I will never leave you. I will not let you die in pain or alone.’ There’s not a test you can offer that does that.”
Previously: Exploring the “fading art” of the physical exam, PBS NewsHour profiles Stanford’s Abraham Verghese, Hands on: Abraham Verghese teaches bedside skills and Physician-writer Abraham Verghese featured on NPR
Photo by Steve Fisch