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    The doctor’s doctor

    Counseling others, taking time with patients makes difference


    A few months into my residency, a patient and her husband came to see me in clinic. The history revealed they had already sought the opinions of two internationally acknowledged giants in the field of retinal disease, one of whom was a department chairman.

    The answers they received on those visits had differed somewhat, so they were now coming to get the tie-breaking third opinion.

    “Thank goodness they have no idea I am just a first-year resident,” I thought to myself.

    I was partially into my examination when I heard a knock at the door and in walked, Arun, my fellow first-year resident from the room next door.

    “Excuse me, Dr. McDonnell. May I ask you to take a brief look at my patient in the next room and give me your recommendation about how to treat him?”

    “Will you please excuse me?” I asked my patient, and headed off with Arun.

    “I have never seen anything like this,” Arun said as we walked to his exam room.

    Arun was a gifted resident and already an impressive clinician. I knew if he didn’t know what the patient had it was bound to be something unusual. And it was.

    “Sorry,” I said. “I have no idea what it is.”

    Peter J. McDonnell, MD
    He is director of The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and chief medical editor of ...

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