Letters

Readers respond to past issues
Dr. Vera Joseph
Vera Joseph
Dear Editor,
As a student at Smith College in the 60s, I was treated by Dr. Vera Joseph for the usual assortment of college maladies — flu, fatigue, sore throat — and remember with great appreciation and affection her unfailing kindness, patience, and compassion. However, Dr. Kenneth Forde’s illuminating tribute (“Vera Joseph’36: A Tribute,” Spring/Summer 2008 issue) gave me greater appreciation of the woman and physician whose singular journey to Northampton, Mass., was unknown to most of us students and unimaginable to those of us whose greatest challenges were getting well enough to write our next paper or take our next exam.
    I think that I speak for a number of my fellow alumnae in saying that we took for granted her status as a physician during our years at Smith, perhaps because the College promoted the belief that women could open any doors. The fact that she was an African- American woman who came of age when neither women nor African-Americans were readily welcomed into the medical community was by and large invisible to me. I am grateful that, thanks to the fund that Dr. Joseph established in 1987, there is a meaningful opportunity to recognize her remarkable accomplishments and to support the journey of those walking in her footsteps.

Marjorie Barkin Searl
Smith College’69
Wife of Steven Scott Searl’71
Via e-mail

Dr. Loeb
Dr. Loeb
Dear Editor,
Thanks for your courage in printing Dr. Alex Caemmerer’s letter in a recent P&S Journal (“Another View of Dr. Loeb,” Spring/Summer 2008 issue) and also his courage in writing it! I share his views.
    By the time I had reached P&S in 1947 I had had enough of fear and intimidation in the Marine Corps. Fortunately I was spared a personal encounter with Dr. Loeb, as Dr. Caemmerer experienced, but his teaching techniques for medical students impressed me as being rooted in fear and intimidation, not by inspiration. It was certainly not the style of a gentleman, let alone a distinguished professor of medicine. In fairness, I understand he may have been a bit gentler in the teaching of house staff and fellows.
    In contrast was Dr. Al Grokoest in Group Clinic in the fourth year. He was kind, pleasant, and inspiring to me as I learned by observing his relationship with patients. He made a point of first knowing a patient as a person, rather than a problem, and always treated him/her with dignity.
    I remembered nothing that Dr. Loeb may have tried to teach me. But I always remembered what I learned by observing Dr. Grokoest and talking with him. I tried to adapt Dr. Grokoest’s lesson in my years of practice, knowing it made practice more pleasant for me and hoping the patients benefited also.

Gordon A. Logan’51
Mercer Island, Wash.

Dear Editor,
I read with bemused interest the letters section in the P&S Journal Spring/Summer 2008. I had similar experiences during my student days at P&S.
    In my opinion, my class was blessed/cursed with a Dr. Robert Loeb wannabe: Stanley Bradley.
    Bradley’s rounds for the third-year students were fraught with fear and anxiety. He allegedly “taught” by intimidation. I must confess that I learned naught from this individual, other than Maalox was helpful. His rounds were a waste of time.
    Would that he were able to pattern himself after Dr. Loeb’s son or retrospectively after my dear classmate, Glenda Garvey.
    The other comparable incident as noted in the letters occurred at our Class Day in the PH garden in June 1969. I was fortunate enough to win the Sciarra Prize in Neurology. I had secured a residency in neurology at Neuro in 1970. As I approached Dr. Merritt to receive my plaque, he shook my hand and in a not so subtle stage whisper said (and here I paraphrase):
    “Larry, I heard that you are going into Neurosurgery. That right?”
    “Yes, sir,” I mumbled.
    “ ‘Well, what in the hell is wrong with you? Keep ’em away from the ‘chireugs.’”
    I had no answer. Interesting parallels.
    As Dr. Henry Buchwald, Class of ’57, said, “Another unrepentant surgeon.”

Laurance J. Guido’69
Siasconset, Mass.

Cover of Fall 2008 Issue
Giving Credit Where It’s Due
Dear Editor,
In your review of the 50th reunion activities (Fall 2008 issue), you report on Dr. Stephen Malawista receiving the P&S Alumni Gold Medal as the person “who discovered Lyme disease and the Lyme vaccine.” Without addressing the relative contributions of the early workers at Yale on Lyme disease, I believe you should have mentioned Allen C. Steere’69, another P&S alumnus and member of that group who made major contributions to the discovery, characterization, and treatment of Lyme disease and is widely recognized and credited for his work in the field.

Irwin Nash’69
Hospital of St. Raphael
New Haven, Conn.

Send Letters to:
Editor, P&S Journal
College of Physicians and Surgeons
630 West 168th Street
New York, NY 10032
E-mail: psjournal@columbia.edu

 

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