On Being a Doctor

Annals of Internal Medicine often publish essays on the above topic. A recent article concerned humanity in medicine.[1] In a beautifully written piece, Katelyn Stepanyan describes her reactions to a failed resuscitation she witnessed as a medical student. She found the episode ‘cruel and cold’ but, as years passed, realised that she had been too quick to judge. The clinicians had tried hard in the face of desperate odds. They walked away at the end with no expression of emotion, but they had given their all and that of itself was an expression of humanity. I liked this article because it is an honest example of the human tendency to judge others too harshly and ourselves too leniently (see also the Good Samaritan experiment).[2]

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Stepanyan K. On Losing Your Humanity. Ann Intern Med. 2015; 163(6):479-80.
  2. Darley JM, Batson D. “From Jerusalem to Jericho”: A Study of Situational and Dispositional Variables in Helping Behavior. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1973; 27(1): 100-8.



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