Preston Hollow People October 2020

Page 48

48 October 2020 |

COVID-19 Pandemic Put These Aspects of Medicine in Focus READ ABOUT IT When to Act and When to Refrain: A Lifetime of Learning the Science and Art of Medicine By Dr. Marvin J. Stone $27.84, hardcover; $6.58, paperback

I’m a retired physician who specialized in hematology and oncology for over 40 years. Looking back over my career, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to teach, do research, and care for patients while continuing to learn the science and art of medicine. To see your students excel, to perform an experiment D R . M A R V I N that yields J . S T O N E new scientific knowledge, and especially to help some seriously ill patients recover so they can see their children and grandchildren grow up—what more could one ask? The coronavirus pandemic has caused an enormous amount of illness and death throughout the world this year. Over 150,000 persons have died in the United States and there is no end in sight.

Difficulty in diagnosis and the lack of effective treatment have altered our daily routines in a major way. Three aspects of medicine have been thrown into sharper focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although not unique to COVID, they illustrate our inadequacy in coping with the current threat to our nation’s health. The three areas are: Access to medical care. Universal comprehensive care for all is a RIGHT. The United States is the only industrialized nation without it. End-of-life care. Always difficult, this aspect is now even more complicated because of additional dilemmas caused by the necessary lack of contact with loved ones. Rigorously designed and implemented clinical trials to test new therapy. Such trials must be based on factual evidence – not testimonials or observational studies.

It is difficult to over emphasize the importance of these three areas of medicine and the urgency to effectively deal with them. When we think about how we can improve, we must always bear in mind the three pillars of medicine: competence, caring, and compassion. These core values in medicine and science are crucial in fulfilling our goals: To cure sometimes, to relieve often, and to comfort always. My purpose in writing When to Act and When to Refrain: A Lifetime of Learning the Science and Art of Medicine is to convey to anyone interested in a medical career the excitement and fascination intrinsic to becoming and serving as a physician. The profession of medicine involves caring, knowledge, skill, accountability, tact, empathy, and lifelong learning. It is challenging and

demanding. With all this in mind, I am addressing young people considering a medical career, medical students, physicians who have completed their training (but not their education), and the general reader who has interest in and concern about the status of medical science and health care in the United States. I hope my perspective about medicine will be helpful. Dr. Marvin J. Stone, of Preston Hollow, became the first chief of oncology and director of the Baylor Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, positions he held for 32 years. This column was compiled from excerpts of his ecently published his memoir, “When to Act and When to Refrain: A Lifetime of Learning the Science and Art of Medicine,” and a presentation he made for the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas. He can be reached at

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