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To the Best of Our Knowledge: Medicine and Compassion | [Jim Fleming]

To the Best of Our Knowledge: Medicine and Compassion

Modern medicine can treat disease at a molecular – or even atomic – level. And today’s surgeons can fix things the naked eye can’t even see. But there’s one thing every patient wants that no technology in the world can provide: compassion. In this hour, doctors talk about the feeling side of their profession. One of the Dalai Lama’s personal physicians talks about scouting for physicians with heart to treat His Holiness.
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Publisher's Summary

In this hour, like a lot of family physicians, Zorba Paster spends his days seeing patients with everything from diabetes to ear infections. He’s also a practicing Buddhist who volunteers his time and medical services in Northern India, with a community of Tibetan exiles. He’s also a personal physician to the Dalai Lama. Paster told Anne Strainchamps how his spiritual life shaped his medical practice.

Next, as a practicing pediatrian with 30 years experience, essayist Susan Ehrlich has plenty of experience dealing with the sick. But she’s had less practice standing by when the news is painful, and she’s not the doctor, but part of the patient’s family.

Then, if you’re looking for the model of a compassionate doctor, you could start with James Orbinski. As a former member – and president – of Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, he’s served in some of the world’s most chaotic places, like Somalia, the refugee camps of Afghanistan and Rwanda, both before and during the genocide. He writes about his experiences in the book An Imperfect Offering. He told Steve Paulson about the moment he realized what he was capable of contributing, as a doctor.

Following that, Danielle Ofri is a practicing physician today. Her most recent book is Medicine in Translation. She’s also an Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University, and Editor-in-Chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. It’s a life she owes in part to mentors like Joseph Sitkin, who taught her as a resident. But sometimes happy endings elude both patients and their doctors. In her essay “Intensive Care” from the book “Writer, MD” – she describes her time as a young doctor and the emotional price that can come with a license to practice medicine.

Finally, Andrew Weil is one of the most influential voices in alternative medicine today. He’s credited with establishing the field of integrative medicine and is the author of several best-selling books. In his latest, Spontaneous Happiness, Weil talks about living a life that promotes happiness and peace of mind. It’s a compassionate recipe for personal well being without the pressure to be happy all the time. Weil tells Steve Paulson that he's dubious about the prevelance of medically managed depression. [Broadcast Date: November 9, 2012]

Listen to Spontaneous Happiness by Andrew Weil.

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