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July 9, 1982

School Days

JAMA. 1982;248(2):233. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330020069035

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Four of us, all first-year medical students, had just moved into a house in downtown Baltimore. One afternoon, I was standing by the garage watching some children play wiffle ball in the alley, when one little girl, spying the new neighbor and perhaps tiring of the game, walked over to me.

"Hello." "Hi." "What grade are you in?" I asked. "Fourth," she answered. Then, after looking me over for a moment: "What grade are you in?" I did a quick calculation and replied, "Seventeenth." In one motion, her mouth dropped open, her eyes filled with tears, and she walked away.