Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Photo by John Carroll

Examining patients in Haiti is a very humbling experience for me.

When I look at the patient sitting on the examination table in front of me I realize there is no difference between the two of us. We are the same being. He just happens to be in a worse way that particular day than I am. And deep inside I realize some day I will be in his position one way or another.

When one is strong and seemingly in control one can be mistaken and think that he will always be in control of himself and his environment. But that is just not true.

Someday we will all be Haitian-like. We will be looking into someone's eyes pleading for help for ourselves. Will the other person be kind and at least try and help some? When our day comes hopefully we will have some of the dignity that Hatiians display during their dark hours.

John A. Carroll, MD

See the abstract below about humility in medicine.

"The new professionalism movement in medical education takes seriously the old medical virtues. Perhaps the most difficult virtue to understand and practice is humility, which seems out of place in a medical culture characterized by arrogance, assertiveness, and a sense of entitlement. Counter cultural though it is, humility need not suggest weakness or lack of self confidence. On the contrary, humility requires toughness and emotional resilience. Humility in medicine manifests itself as unflinching self-awareness; empathic openness to others; and a keen appreciation of, and gratitude for, the privilege of caring for sick persons. Justified pride in medicine’s accomplishments should neither rule out nor diminish our humility as healers."

Jack Coulehan, MD, MPH
Annals of Internal Medicine Vol. 153 Number 3
August 3, 2010

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