Peabody's littlest students
First, the applause in the room peters out. Then, almost before
everyone can catch his breath, the class begins another song, as
tiny voices mix with deeper, more robust intonations in a
churchlike chorus. In midsong, one class member turns her back to
the group and kneels down. It appears that a tiny hole in the
thin blue carpet has caught her attention, and she feels obliged
to put her finger into the hole to test its authenticity. Nobody
seems to mind her dropping out of the performance--that is, until
two large arms come soaring down to scoop her up and reposition
her to face the small circle of singers. Undaunted, the little
girl picks up where she left off.
"Humpty Dumpty had a big fall," she sings in
unison with the rest. Well, actually, for some, the words come
out sounding more like "Umpty Dunty," but they know the tune.
The students who gather on a Saturday morning
in Peabody Preparatory's room 119 are quickly forgiven if their
attention strays, and are regularly applauded just for trying.
One of the major goals in this class is to just have fun.
Premeds get a glimpse of humanistic aspect of
As an associate professor emeritus of general surgery at the
School of Medicine, Ronald Fishbein says he's known some rather
elite, gold-medal-quality physicians in his day. He mentions
various doctors who have elevated surgery to a higher art form,
and clinicians who could spout off the entire history of a
disease, both backwards and forwards.
But some of these people lacked one fundamental
trait, a lack that prohibited them, at least in Fishbein's eyes,
from becoming truly great physicians. That trait, he says, is
genuine human compassion.
Fishbein agrees with the assessment--put forth
in a number of recent articles in prominent magazines, newspapers
and medical journals--that there is in this country a growing
number of health professionals who lack empathy for their
patients. One of the factors attributed to this trend is that in
this era of the HMO doctors are under increasing economic
pressure to see more patients, thus spending less time with each.
Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop has gone so far as to
chair a council that is now training physicians in communication
skills in an effort to improve their bedside manner.
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