The human touch redux
I appreciated Dana Grossman's Editor's Note, "Revisiting vinyl," in the Fall 2007 Dartmouth Medicine—with its reminder that medicine involves humanity as well as technology.
I had the same kind of experience at the doctor's officemany years ago in Germany, where I grew up. And I can still see our family doctor coming into my bedroomwhen I had tonsillitis at age 10. Doctors then gave you the sense that they were personally interested in you.
For some time after that, though, it seemed that technique and theory were getting the upper hand over humanity.
But in the latter years of my work as a nurse (I amnow retired from DHMC), I began to see more emphasis on humanity—in interactions with patients and in the teaching ofmedical students. Dr. Joe O'Donnell especially, in his work with poetry and the arts, is doing much to emphasize the importance of human connections in medicine.
Science is important. But so is the human touch. I now see a renewed awareness of human needs at DHMC, and this comes through very clearly in Dartmouth Medicine.
Down memory lane
Kudos to Dr. Witters not only for his well-written article on Drs. Nathan Smith and Harvey Cushing in your Winter 2007 issue, but also for helping me recapture memories of my studies at Dartmouth and Yale. It was heartwarming to recall the significant contributions made by the two educators who were the subject of his article.
I recently had my prostate resected in a large New York City hospital and felt like a number. How times have changed.
Nicholas Procino, D.M.D., M.D.
Dartmouth College '59
Do I see me?
At my DMS class's 50th reunion last fall, my classmates and I were given, as part of our "goodie packet," a postcard featuring a painting of the intensive care unit at Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital.
This is the same painting that was featured in the Spring 2005 issue of
Dartmouth Medicine. I'm writing because I believe the person on the far right might be me. [The painting was on the article's opening spread—which is below. The article detailed the history of MHMH's ICU, which, as far as can be determined, was the nation's first multispecialty ICU.]
In the article, the photograph on which the painting was based is identified as having been taken in 1957 or earlier. That date would have to be incorrect if it is me on the right. I was a surgical resident at Mary Hitchcock and the White River Junction, Vt., VA from July 1, 1959, to December 31, 1961, and was chief resident in the final six months of that period under Dr. Bill Mosenthal, who established Hitchcock's ICU in 1955.
I do think it may be me—the hair color, the profile and face, and the glasses, jacket, and ring all fit. In addition, the suggestion of a swelling in the individual's left jaw is consistent with the fact that I had a swollen left submandibular gland.
Could someone on the DM staff see if the date of the photo might be incorrect?
James Cavanagh, M.D.
DC '51 and DMS '52
It would be very satisfying to identify another of the individuals in that image. However, as far as we can determine, the 1957 date is correct, which means the young man on the right must be someone else.
In praise of uniformity
I had time to kill between several appointments at DHMC and luckily was able to while away most of it reading Dartmouth Medicine. (It's an excellent magazine. I enthusiastically echo the subscriber comments that are quoted in the Winter 2007 Editor's Note.)
As I sat there, I was reminded of one area of improvement that I feel could be made at DHMC—and that is to develop a dress code for nurses. While it might be unrealistic to go all the way back to the starched dresses and caps of earlier days (though there are those of us who would love it), there has to be something between that and today's casual, unprofessional, undignified individual statements.
I have felt for quite some time that nurses' appearance falls below that of other health-care professionals. And, as if to spur me on to write this, one of my appointments today began with my being escorted by a nurse wearing a pink, brown, and white print smock atop brown pants. Now I know that "brown is the new black" in fashion, but this was, to my eyes anyway, an ugly, shrill, coppery brown.
But I don't think the point is whether that particular nurse's outfit is tasteful or not; someone might love it. The point is that for everyone who finds an individualistic outfit attractive, there is someone who finds it ugly. That's what happens when any group of professionals, nurses or others, are allowed to decide on their own what is an appropriate fashion statement to make.
For uniforms to be professional and dignified and to reflect well on their wearers, they should above all be neutral and, well, uniform—like the white lab coats worn by physicians.
I'd favor a navy blue or dark green top; a white cardigan for cold weather (a variation might be a white top with a navy or green cardigan); white pants; and white clogs, sneakers, or other comfortable, practical, but tasteful footwear.