Residents tend to be youthful, immature, energetic, impulsive, and idealistic. These qualities occasionally combine to allow them to be more caring physicians than they ever may be again as fully trained doctors. An incident that occurred while my wife, Hope, was a pediatric resident illustrates this point.
She cared for a 5-year-old patient named Billy who had disseminated Burkitt's lymphoma. Appropriate treatments had been tried; all had failed. He lived in Albuquerque, but his mother, an intensive care unit nurse, was from New England. She had brought Billy to Boston to get a final medical opinion, and also to give her family and Billy a chance to say good-bye. While visiting, Billy required hospitalization for sepsis after attempts to keep him comfortable at home receiving antibiotics and pain medication failed. When it appeared that death was imminent, Hope recommended that Billy's father fly to Boston, which he did, assisted by