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A Piece of My Mind
December 17, 2014

The Half-Wall

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University; Rhode Island Hospital, Providence
  • 2Home hospice, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; opinion columnist, New York Times
JAMA. 2014;312(23):2501-2502. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12937

The trained nurse has become one of the great blessings of humanity, taking a place beside the physician and the priest, and not inferior to either in her mission.

William Osler, Aequanimitas

Will: In the cardiac care unit, we residents worked behind a half-wall. The nurse would sit close to her patients; that is, until she needed an order. She would approach our wall and give a rehearsed “I’m so sorry to bother you,” and I’d find myself frustrated at the request. I was in the middle of a thought, a note—something—and now I was some sort of bank teller. I would sigh and ask, “How can I help you?” Then, I had finally had it. One day, I walked around the wall and sat with the nurses.

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