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A Piece of My Mind
July 11, 2012

Learning to Talk

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

Author Affiliation: Internal Medicine Residency Program, University of Colorado, Denver (

JAMA. 2012;308(2):145-146. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.7435

The bricks and mortar of medicine . . . were words. You needed only words strung together to describe a structure, explain how it worked and to explain what went wrong. . . . How extraordinary that a word could serve as a shorthand for an elaborate tale of disease.—Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone

The doctor's answer to his patient . . . will come naturally—or at first unnaturally—from the intersecting of the patient's needs with the physician's as yet untried imagination. The doctor must usher the patient out of the ordinary world into whatever place awaits him. The physician is the patient's only familiar in a foreign country. . . . In learning to talk to his patients, the doctor may talk himself back into loving his work.—Anatole Broyard, “Doctor Talk to Me”

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