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A Piece of My Mind
September 3, 2014

One Stroke at a Time

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Rheumatology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2014;312(9):893-894. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.8148

I’m sitting at the stern of the boat, hands on the oar, anxiously waiting to row the Head of the Charles regatta, the world’s largest two-day rowing event. In front of me is Paul, my college coxswain. He is busy making final preparations for the 5000-meter race. Behind me are seven other Amherst College alumni, trying to keep warm in the chilly autumn breeze that is blowing across the river. Aside from a one-hour practice yesterday, none of us has rowed in years. We span several generations of alumni, having graduated from 1990 to 2006. To my surprise, five of the nine people on the boat—myself included—are physicians. There are several medical specialties represented: emergency medicine, sports medicine, primary care, and Med-Peds. The women’s alumni boat is similarly packed, with four physicians or physicians-in-training. Clearly, the abundance of physicians in my boat will be useful in the event of a medical emergency. After all, most of us are no longer at the prime of our lives; at best we are weekend warriors, trying to relive our glory days from college. As we line up with the other boats in preparation for the race, I wonder why so many of us rowers became physicians. Is there a common thread that drew us from one interest to the next?