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Abraham Verghese discusses reconnecting to the patient at the bedside

In his latest podcast on the radio, Robert Harrington, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, talks with Stanford physician and best-selling author Abraham Verghese, MD, about the humanistic aspects of health care and the training of medical students and residents in bedside medicine.

During the segment, Verghese discusses developing the Stanford Medicine 25 initiative, a series of hands-on workshops teaching 25 essential techniques for examining patients, and how it's used to reconnect with the patient. At the opening of the show, Harrington asks Verghese to describe the role of humanism in medical practice. He responds:

There is much more to what we do than simply finding the biology of disease and administering a cure. I think we are dealing with human beings who are not just biological machines but have deep and complex feelings. I think the humanistic aspect of medicine is trying to address just  that; addressing the need for not just a cure but also healing.


We forget that for most patients illness has two aspects. There is always a physical sense of loss but there is also always a sense of spiritual violation, a sense of why me? Why now? I think part of our fiduciary responsibility in medicine, part of our fulfilling the public trust, is to address both the physical los sand sense of violation. I think that is where humanism and medicine comes to play—as a reminder that we are there to administer to more than just the body but also to the soul.

The full podcast is worth listening to. Afterwards, read more about how the Stanford Medicine 25 curriculum was created and why the hands-on diagnostic skills are imperative in examining patients in this 2010 Stanford Medicine article.

Previously: Stanford AIM Lab launches patient exam iPad app, Abraham Verghese discusses the importance of hands-on patient examsExploring the “fading art” of the physical exam and Abraham Verghese at Work: A New York Times profile
Photo by Stanford EdTech

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