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January 22, 1982

The Fine Art of Disappearing From Meetings

JAMA. 1982;247(4):508. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320290052034

As my hospital-staff presidency neared its end, my awareness of the expertise of some of the medical staff in prematurely departing from meetings had crystallized. During ascendancy to this position, one cannot fully appreciate the extent of this sort of ingenuity. As secretary, one is too busy trying to record the minutes. As vice-president, one has an understudy's engrossment in the president's predicaments and can observe little else. But, ah, after the torch is passed and, upright, he faces his seated colleagues at staff meetings, he has a talent scout's view of attendance-abbreviation finesse.

The Telephone Gambit.—  This classic method merits mention as the venerable forerunner of those more innovative techniques. Shortly into the meeting, the phone calls begin, each summoning a specific physician to a brief, earnest conversation. The callee strides out purposefully, not to return. Users of this method have, of course, scheduled the call (usually from home)