Can excellent scientists be excellent physicians at the same time? "I would like to ask you about a trip to Thailand." This is not the kind of question I expected from a patient in my cardiology clinic at the Veterans Administration hospital in Indianapolis.
In medical school, we learn that our job is to help our patients. This point seems so obvious that we take it for granted; we tell ourselves that this is the purpose served by the endless hours in the library and late nights on the wards.
During a conversation the other day, a classmate of mine shook me out of my afternoon inertia by casually remarking that the most memorable patients he had encountered during his third year medical rotations were the ones who, by virtue of being young, educated, and English-speaking, reminded him of himself.
Any confusion over the recent news of cholesterol guidelines in the U.S. is perfectly understandable. On the one hand, the guidelines suggest that nearly half the population should use statins to stave off heart attacks and strokes.