Current Issue
Spring 2014
BMM Current Issue
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Letter from the Dean
It's All Good

After a long and cold winter spring has finally arrived at Brown. There is no better place to be than on the Green among eager students, trees and flowers in bloom, and Commencement just around the corner. The only better place could have been at this year’s Match Day, for our medical students. Our students are highly sought after by training programs. Most students got their number one choice, and more students than last year are staying in Rhode Island. There was also an increase in those electing to go into primary care; this is consistent with a national increase of 11 percent. The results of the Match can be found in this issue.

We were honored to have Gus White speak at a forum on campus recently. Dr. White, the Ellen and Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education and professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, is a proud Brown alumnus and a scientist who has distinguished himself on several fronts, most notably in orthopedics. He is also passionate about health care and the disparities that exist in the US today. His passion is captured in his book excerpt in this issue.

The rankings of Alpert Medical School in the latest US News & World Report improved this year over last year, from 32 to 29 in Research and from 49 to 28 in Primary Care. The Research category ranking is driven by academic reputation (the opinion of our peers), NIH funding, the quality of the student body, and the faculty-to-student ratio. The Primary Care category is driven mostly by reputation and the percentage of graduating seniors who enter primary care disciplines. While very pleased, I am also wary of the subjective nature of these rankings and their variability from year to year. Looming in the future are plans to declare a School of Public Health and the effect it would have on the Medical School’s ranking. It is gratifying, however, to see our School consistently in the top one quarter of medical schools, and improving.
Letter from the Editor
unbaised source It

A million years ago in college, in a reading assignment for a course on critical theory—the text was by Dworkin or Brownmiller, I think—I was struck by the notion of the invisibility of sexism. It had never occurred to me that the mere prevalence of bias was to some degree a cause of its intractability. It was a chilling thought. How can you reverse something that people either don’t see, or don’t see as unnatural?

The same is true of most isms and biases, of course, and while it’s heartbreaking that we are still talking about unequal treatment of minorities and women, it’s also heartening to know that someone as eloquent and engaging as Dr. Augustus White is advocating for change in a field that arguably touches everyone. White and his co-author, David Chanoff, have written a quietly but deeply persuasive case first for seeing, and then for eliminating, bias in the medical profession. Their book, of which you can read an excerpt in this issue, is a thorough and thoroughly readable examination of the sometimes unwittingly inequitable handling different groups receive, and the unequal health outcomes that result. It is also the amazing and quite humbling story of one man’s life.
Letters to the Editor
He’s the Man

Reading the article “Larger Than Life” (Winter 2011), I was reminded of my days as a medical student rotating on the orthopaedic service at Brown. The article made no mention of the medical students who were also significantly influenced by Dr. Ehrlich. As a third-year student I thought that perhaps I was interested in orthopaedics. I rotated on the service and was immediately impressed with the residents’ work ethic and caring for patients. I returned as a sub-intern convinced this was what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become. Dr. Ehrlich’s influence on the residents was clear.

At the daily breakfast with the chair, Dr. Ehrlich would lecture on a topic and then ask questions, starting with the medical students. If the student failed to answer correctly, the question was bumped to the intern and so on. I still remember being asked about fibular hemimelia and silently thanking the resident (Craig Eberson) for telling me to read up on it the night before. After having missed a question about aggrecanase the day before I so wanted to impress Dr. Ehrlich, who by now I held on a pedestal. I don’t know of another chairman who, while excelling at his clinical and administrative duties, still found the time to meet with and teach the residents and students on a daily basis.

My experience at Brown was filled with great mentors. Dr. Ehrlich was certainly one of them. His character, dedication to patients, commitment to residents and students, and contributions to orthopaedics are incredible. He sets an example for all of us in medicine. Thank you, Dr. Ehrlich.

Erika J. Mitchell ’95 MD’99
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Trauma
Loyola University Medical Center Chicago, IL

Because We Did Not Like Dashes

I was so pleased to see you use that striking quotation from Emily Dickinson on your most recent cover (Winter 2011). However, when I checked, you stated that the text came from “The Chariot” by Emily Dickinson. In addition to using dashes rather than commas at the end of the line, it is very significant that she did not title her poems. The poem is not called “The Chariot” and does not use the word chariot. It is Poem 712 from the Thomas H. Johnson edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. It can be cited by poem number or first line. Besides the error in citation, I was glad to see you bridge the gap between poetry and medicine.

Elizabeth Metzger ’11
Providence, RI

Brown Medicine replies: The citation refers to the first collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry published by Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd in 1890. They did alter the dashes and add titles, but we preferred the comma version for our purposes.

Built to Last

A number of letters were posted online in response to “Pride of Place” (Winter 2011). 

I love this piece. It is so important for all of us to understand and appreciate the people who transform this campus every day. They are the magicians who turn dreams into reality.

Robin Rose
Senior Associate Dean
Office of Continuing Education
Brown University

I am so impressed by this profile of construction workers. They are the invisible heroes/heroines of our built world.

Mary L. White

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