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A Piece of My Mind |

Back to the Heart of the Matter

Elizabeth Toll, MD1
[+] Author Affiliations
1Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island; and The Medicine-Pediatrics Primary Care Center, Providence, Rhode Island
JAMA. 2015;313(18):1829-1830. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.1672.
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Amid the seismic upheavals in our current primary care system lies the challenge of helping physicians, including trainees, hold on to the humanistic ideals that so often drew us to the practice of medicine.1,2 Happily, opportunities can appear serendipitously.

I am a combined internist/pediatrician in a busy urban university clinic where we deliver primary care to adults, children, and families and teach this work to residents and medical students. Our patients hail from every corner of the earth and socioeconomic background. They bring with them all the experiences a human being can have from birth to death. They have lived through health and illness, love and hate, peace and violence, coziness and immigration, and wealth and poverty in their quotidian and inner lives. As their physicians, we are fortunate to hear their stories and help them heal physical, emotional, and psychological ails. This privilege is akin to holding a precious ticket for a front row seat to the show of the human condition.


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