Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.
William Carlos Williams wrote of Old Doc Rivers, "He was a young man
then, full of information and tenderness," and I would like to think that
I was too: 24 years old on my first medicine rotation at Cook County Hospital,
one of the more overwhelming places in American medicine in 1968. Twelve admissions
each night came far too often and far too intensely. The outpatient department
was so overbooked that follow-ups were fictional. We had rules like every
child younger than 2 with pneumonia and anyone with acute hepatitis were to
be admitted. I ended up interning at County because it was the place that
felt as if it were the center of all that Chicago had come to be in those
days—a complex mix of medicine and politics but also housing the small
dramas of daily life that almost drowned me in the richness of the experience.
I think often of those times of more than 30 years ago as I see my new residents
begin and the preclinical students set out on their way, into the hospitals,
the emergency departments, the clinics. I remember my first moments of doctoring
and how thrilled and scared I was—and how alive.
Frey III JJ. Ward 55. JAMA. 1999;282(20):1897-1898. doi:10.1001/jama.282.20.1897