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.

Subscribe to our mailing list


Related Pages

  • Teaching Humility at the Bedside

    Humility is an underappreciated skill in a time of global budgets, evidenced based approaches, and cost-containment. The bright, well-read, talented medical students who may lack humility are not uncommon.

  • What Can Doctors Learn from Narrative Medicine?

    Patient-centered care is an important aspect of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement on Health Care. As such, healthcare institutions are strongly focusing on the patient-physician relationship and the patient experience.

  • Interview with Dr. Eric Topol (editor-in-chief of Medscape)

    The editor-in-chief of Medscape, Dr. Eric Topol, visited Stanford to sit down and do an interview with our Dr. Vergese for the Medscape One-on-One online video series.

  • The Internet: The Elephant in the Examination Room

    Peter Conrad, a sociologist at Brandeis University, spoke of the rise and fall of the medical authority in the doctor patient office encounter in his many scholarly articles. With the internet becoming the “elephant in the doctor’s office,” the dynamic of medical authority has certainly changed…