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In Practice
Other People's Stories

As physicians, we spend our days in the midst of our patients’ stories, living and moving in them as if they were our own. Patients share secrets with us, admit their fears to us, become vulnerable before us. They collapse in our arms and deliver babies into our hands. They submit to examinations and show us their blemishes of all kinds. There is perhaps no other vocation in which one is connected, so constantly and so intimately, with other people.

And yet, strangely, loneliness is a real hazard of the profession.

As physicians, we spend our days in the midst of our patients’ stories, living and moving in them as if they were our own. Patients share secrets with us, admit their fears to us, become vulnerable before us. They collapse in our arms and deliver babies into our hands. They submit to examinations and show us their blemishes of all kinds. There is perhaps no other vocation in which one is connected, so constantly and so intimately, with other people.

And yet, strangely, loneliness is a real hazard of the profession.

Nell Burger Kirst, "Other People's Stories," Hastings Center Report 41, no. 5 (2011): 9-10.