In your last issue you touted the benefits of the PLME (Program in Liberal Medical Education) (“The Whole Physician,” Winter 2014). That is all hogwash, in my opinion. I firmly believe in a PCME (program in conservative or classical medical education).
My father was the product of such an education. He and my mother both came from Ukraine, a former republic of the Soviet Union. Both of them attended medical school there (although my mother couldn’t finish because of the war and because she was younger than my father). Under the Soviet system, colleges or universities were for the sole purpose of attaining training in one’s chosen profession. All of the broad, general education that one had to have was achieved in the gymnasia, or high school. Right after graduation from this secondary school, my parents matriculated into medical schools. The duration of medical studies was five years, after which time my pop received his MD degree. During his medical school years nothing that he learned was superfluous. …
When I was at Brown as an undergrad I took Music 1-2, a course taught by Mr. Fischer. My father asked me why I would need to take a music course if I was planning to pursue a medical career. I couldn’t give him a good answer except to say that I was fulfilling a distribution requirement. My paw came to the conclusion that premedical studies in this country were nothing more than a business-making activity, something done to make the educators money. It does nothing to make one a better physician or surgeon. The argument that it makes us better humanists is just a bunch of bull, because no one was a better “humanist” than my father, speaking from a completely objective point of view. He did not have a particularly busy practice, he took time with his patients, and oh yes, he made house calls. He was of the opinion that there are some patients who are too sick to be seen in his office but not sick enough to go to the ER. He would make his rounds wearing his fedora hat and carrying his black bag. When he died prematurely at age 59 his patients sorely missed him. Now that was a model of what a general practitioner should be like. And yet he had been trained under a PCME. ...
So let’s start focusing on what’s really important in our society and reform health care from a disease-oriented approach to a health-oriented approach and we’d all be better off. That is the real essence of humanism.
George Chudolij ’72 MD ’76
East Freetown, MA
I thoroughly enjoyed Kylah Goodfellow Klinge’s essay, “Question Away” (Winter 2014), and believe that she is absolutely right in insisting on doctors’ listening with more open minds to their patients’ concerns. However, I would like to point out that Ms. Klinge’s assessment of type 1 diabetes—“I was no longer young and healthy. I was diabetic”—implies that diabetes is antithetical to youth. In fact, most type 1 diabetics are diagnosed in childhood or adolescence. The condition was, until recently, referred to as “juvenile diabetes.” I was diagnosed at the age of 11.
North Kingstown, RI