In this interview from our archives, Dr. John Hoey has a fascinating discussion with Dr. James Orbinski. The interview was first published in February of the year 2000. At the time, Dr. John Hoey was editor-in-chief of CMAJ and Dr. James Orbinski was international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders, or MSF). Dr. Orbinski had just accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of MSF’s pioneering humanitarian work in several countries around the world.
Dr. Orbinski and Dr. Hoey talk about war, humanitarian medicine, refugees, genocide, and more. These themes are just as relevant today as they were 19 years ago.
Kacper Niburski is a medical student in the Class of 2021 at McGill University. He is also the CMAJ student humanities blog editor. Follow his writing instagram: @_kenkan.
there used to be tall trees here
that stood alone
that could be seen from space
that were cut into these scrambled stuck papers
where my pencil accidentally touches a thought you had
fifteen years ago
during that first stroking stitch that was meant
to keep the rest together
Raafia Siddiqui is second year medical student at McMaster University.
The surgeon asked me for the second time, “So are you here alone?” “Yes”, I answered, this time a bit impatiently. I was a 20-year-old with other things than this appointment but my family doctor had noticed a lump on my throat and insisted I see a specialist. We were supposed to discuss the results of the biopsy today.
After my response, the surgeon placed his hand on my shoulder and let out a long sigh. I asked him, “What is it?” His reply was very short and urgent, “There’s a lump - and we have to take it out”.
Immediately, I understood what he meant and began pressing him with questions, “Is it malignant? Has it metastasized? What type of cancer is it?” Although I felt I had to pry answers out of him, the specialist finally told me I had a thyroid tumour, which he believed had begun to spread.
Mark Speechley is a Professor of Epidemiology at Western University
The age-old debate over who should be addressed as ‘doctor’ lives again in recent letters to CMAJ. Of course, it is important not to confuse the public. Since more people get sick than get university educated, members of the public are more likely to have met a physician-doctor than a professor-doctor. As a PhD epidemiologist, ‘the population is my patient’. Consequently, when I meet my medical colleagues in the hospital, I do not expect to be addressed as ‘Doctor’, but should the whole population be in the hospital, and the crowding in the corridors be so acute that I would have the statistical power to practice my profession by expertly assembling the massed throngs of gurneys into long rows of cases and controls, or exposed and unexposed, as appropriate, I would most certainly expect to be addressed as such. ...continue reading →
In this next "Med Life with Dr. Horton" podcast, Dr. Jillian Horton talks with both Dr. Deepu Gawda and actor Alan Alda.
In the first segment, Dr. Horton and guest Dr. Deepu Gawda, internist and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University, answer a listener question from a physician who is under so much work pressure that s/he is viewing patients only as units of time. This person wants to get back to connecting with patients in a meaningful way and is looking for advice.
In the second segment, Dr. Horton speaks with award-winning actor Alan Alda, who leads workshops for physicians through the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. They discuss how doctors can focus less on pressure from the "system" to be more time efficient and instead be more present for patients. They also talk about ageism in medicine.
Vivian Gu is a medical student in the Class of 2020 at the University of British Columbia
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Held every year, it’s a gathering of more than 9000 government officials and representatives from advocacy groups and NGOs worldwide. They come together in throes, dressed in everything from stiff suits to colourful swaths of cultural garb, and for two weeks, assemble to advocate for women and the challenges they face back home. By the end, a collection of recommendations is aggregated to shape the global agenda on gender equality and the empowerment of women worldwide for the year to come. ...continue reading →