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"I have sat with countless patients and families to discuss grim prognoses: It's one of the most important jobs physicians have."

By: Dr. Christopher Ho on February 3, 2014, 4:42 pm

Although the practice of hematology is very fulfilling from a intellectual standpoint, I find that the practice of medical oncology is equally nuanced but draws more from my experiences as a human being. I have enjoyed some recent articles published in the New York Times recently, which have documented various experiences from many doctors, from different stages in their careers. It is interesting to see how that experience in life changes the perspective of each physician. I remember a recent article of a young physician still starting his training, and the astonishment in some of his terminal patients' resolve in the face of long odds. I smiled at the bravado, but obvious immaturity that young physician demonstrated in his writing, and I wondered how more years of practice would change his outlook.

 I recently read this article today, which describes another young physician, who seeking "the straight dope" from his medical oncologist. I am almost certain I know his oncologist, and know he is in very good hands. I wanted to share it with you, some of the more difficult conversations we have with our patients daily. Dr Kalanithi spans this relationship and puts into words the importance yet nonsense of survival statistics to the individual patient. I think it is "the straight dope" from a very accomplished young physician.