Abraham Verghese Quotes
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About Abraham Verghese
Abraham Verghese (born 1955) is an Indian American physician-author, Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University Medical School and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.
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My desire to be a physician had a lot to do with that sense of medicine as a ministry of healing, not just a science. And not even just a science and an art, but also a calling, also a ministry. Abraham Verghese
Rituals, anthropologists will tell us, are about transformation. The rituals we use for marriage, baptism or inaugurating a president are as elaborate as they are because we associate the ritual with a major life passage, the crossing of a critical threshold, or in other words, with transformation. Abraham Verghese
I’m a great believer in geography being destiny. Abraham Verghese
What we need in medical schools is not to teach empathy, as much as to preserve it – the process of learning huge volumes of information about disease, of learning a specialized language, can ironically make one lose sight of the patient one came to serve; empathy can be replaced by cynicism. Abraham Verghese
In America, we have always taken it as an article of faith that we ‘battle’ cancer; we attack it with knives, we poison it with chemotherapy or we blast it with radiation. If we are fortunate, we ‘beat’ the cancer. If not, we are posthumously praised for having ‘succumbed after a long battle.’ Abraham Verghese
By visiting patients in their home, by helping them come to terms with their illness, I could heal when I could not cure. Abraham Verghese
For one who has an interest in the body as text, airports are treasure troves of information. It seems almost un-American to enjoy delays, and perhaps enjoy is not the best word, but certainly a delayed flight, if it does nothing else, allows one the opportunity to make prolonged observations about one’s fellow travelers. Abraham Verghese
I think America is really in denial about the degree to which residents, particularly foreign medical graduates, man the county hospitals of this country, and but for their services, I’m not sure how exactly we could manage. Abraham Verghese
Though I am fascinated by knowledge, I am even more fascinated by wisdom. Abraham Verghese
When you have a natural genetic tan developed over centuries and many generations, the idea of soaking up rays by the pool has never made sense. Abraham Verghese
Modern society has evolved to the point where we counter the old-fashioned fatalism surrounding the word ‘cancer’ by embracing the idea of the Uber-mind – that our will possesses nearly supernatural powers. Abraham Verghese
There are moments as a teacher when I’m conscious that I’m trotting out the same exact phrase my professor used with me years ago. It’s an eerie feeling, as if my old mentor is not just in the room, but in my shoes, using me as his mouthpiece. Abraham Verghese
My deceased patients have taught me over the years to believe in the glass half full, to make good use of the time we have, to be generous – that was their lesson for the Uber-mind, and it was free. ‘Do that,’ they said, ‘and then perhaps death shall have no dominion.’ Abraham Verghese
The bottom line: health care reform is about the patient, not about the physician. Abraham Verghese
Patients know in a heartbeat if they’re getting a clumsy exam. Abraham Verghese
My advice for writers is to get a good day job. It takes the pressure off writing if you have a job that pays the bills. Abraham Verghese
There’s something universal about illness… Whether you like it, at some level all patients are saying, ‘Daddy, Mommy, help me, tell me it’s going to be alright.’ Abraham Verghese
As a young physician in the mid-’80s, caring for people who had contracted H.I.V., I lost two of my patients to suicide at a time when the virus was doing very little harm to them. I have always thought of them as having been killed by a metaphor, by the burden of secrecy and shame associated with the disease. Abraham Verghese
My writing flows out of my doctorhood. They are not separate things. They are one. I think the foremost connection between being a doctor and being a writer is the great privilege of having an intimate view of one’s fellow humans, the privilege of being there and helping other people at their most vulnerable moments. Abraham Verghese
My sense is that the wonderful technology that we have to visualize the inside of the body often leaves physicians feeling that the exam is a waste of time and so they may shortchange the ritual. Abraham Verghese
I think we learn from medicine everywhere that it is, at its heart, a human endeavor, requiring good science but also a limitless curiosity and interest in your fellow human being, and that the physician-patient relationship is key; all else follows from it. Abraham Verghese
Literature is a beautiful way of keeping the imagination alive, of visiting worlds you would never have time to in your day-to-day life. It keeps you abreast of a wider spectrum of human activities. Abraham Verghese
I write by stealing time. The hours in the day have never felt as if they belonged to me. The greatest number has belonged to my day job as a physician and professor of medicine – eight to 12 hours, and even more in the early days. Abraham Verghese
I joke, but only half joke, that if you show up in an American hospital missing a finger, no one will believe you until they get a CAT scan, MRI and orthopedic consult. Abraham Verghese
Certainly when I got to medical school, I had role models of the kind of physicians I wanted to be. I had an uncle who, looking back, was probably not the most-educated physician around, but he carried it off so well. Abraham Verghese
When I use the word ‘healing,’ by that I mean that every disease has a physical element that we’re very good at handling, but there’s always a sense of the violation. ‘Why me?’ ‘Why is my leg broken on the ski trip and not anyone else’s?’ And I think that medicine has done a terrible job of addressing that spiritual violation. Abraham Verghese
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