Conversation About Bedside Medicine Continues to Gain Momentum

Dr. Abraham Verghese speaking at Stanford Medicine 25 Skills Symposium

Abraham Verghese, MD, professor of medicine, has a passion for patient care and physician wellbeing that's best described as contagious. It’s also attracting national attention, as with this recent Medscape article: Abraham Verghese: ‘Revolution’ Starts at Bedside. In it, reporter Christine Wiebe describes the thinking behind his bedside medicine teaching and his advocacy for changes in the practice and profession of medicine.

Two particular areas of urgency for Verghese are enhancing connections between patients and their physicians and preventing the burnout of his colleagues, which he attributes, at least in part, to the data entry burden of electronic health records (EHRs). He tells Wiebe, “You can’t make [the exam] a decision tree. It’s more than that; it’s the art and science of medicine. It’s a human experience.” 

His concerns play out in the bedside exam, where he’s making a push for re-establishing meaning in the doctor-patient relationship for the sake of both parties. When it comes to examining patients, Verghese emphasizes and teaches touch and presence. And when it comes to his colleagues, he encourages a return the heart and soul of medicine: “Meaningfulness in this profession comes from one-on-one interactions with patients. The moment you feel like you're just another widget, it just takes the soul out of many physicians' lives.”

Here at Stanford, we’re quite familiar with Verghese's teaching and see it at work through initiatives he’s inspired, such as our own (Stanford Medicine 25), our annual skills symposium and most recently “Presence.” As demonstrated by the Medscape piece, others are energized by the ideas as well. We're proud to see the conversation about bedside medicine gaining momentum, and look forward to more discussions in the future.

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