A LETTER FROM THE UNITED STATES: THE ROMANCE OF MEDICINE—VOYAGES AND HEROES
Becoming a physician is a lifelong journey, not merely the completion of medical school and postgraduate training. For those pedagogues that wish to train doctors as technicians the notion that there is something heroic and romantic in a physician’s life is quaint, old fashioned, and out of date! In today’s teaching hospitals virtual patients come via digital technology in computed x-ray and magnetic resonance images, automated laboratory test panels, electrophysiologic studies, and algorhythmic histories. Doctors have no need to leave their computer and increasingly doctors do not leave their computers for the bedside, the home, the neighborhood, or the country of their “patients.” Contemporary doctors are in danger of losing their bedside clinical skills and with them go the role of physician as a wise, widely traveled human being knowledgeable about the rigors of inhospitable environs, the hardiness of the species, the despair of poverty, and the seductive dangers of wealth. There is similarity of this kind of physician to mythic heroes, and they still have stories to tell.