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April 19, 1985

An Apple for the Doctor

JAMA. 1985;253(15):2265. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350390107038

It had been a particularly vexing and difficult day. It was my birthday, and I was on the orthopedic surgery rotation of my general surgery residency. A few months before, the nursing personnel and the operating room supervisor had presented the chief resident on his birthday with a large ice cream cake and several useful gifts. I had taken careful notes and, when the time came, adeptly dropped a few casual remarks about my forthcoming birthday, making sure the exact date was properly fixed in the right people's minds.

The day came and there was no cake, no gifts, not even a remembrance or greeting card from anyone. I had had to assist in the operating room, first with a laborious hemipelvectomy, then with the repair of a torn shoulder rotator cuff, which had started long after the usual hour for planned surgical procedures. I misplaced the key to my