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Surgical Reminiscence
August 2003

Oh, doctor, how nice that you'll have a vacation

Arch Surg. 2003;138(8):921. doi:10.1001/archsurg.138.8.921-b

I was making hospital rounds with a renowned senior professor just before he was to leave for vacation. he had the largest surgical practice in our university hospital. this was in part because of his skill and knowledge, but perhaps more so because of his studied, winning bedside manner and his unusual emphasis on communicating well with patients and their families. his patients were often influential dignitaries. during his absence, i was to be in charge.

When the professor told one of his renowned patients that he would be away, the patient sympathetically said, "oh, doctor, how nice that you'll have a vacation. you work so hard, and you deserve it." without a pause, the professor stroked his chin, and in his characteristic slow speech (with a foreign accent) he replied, "i am going to a meeting."