Is there a physician you see as a real hero?

Posted by • April 10th, 2012

Can you remember a doctor who inspired you to get into medicine? Do you admire a researcher whom you’ve never met? Do you have great respect for a particular colleague or educator? Share your story on our 200th website.  We’ll be highlighting our favorites all month.

Rachel Wolfson, a first-year student at Harvard Medical School, shared this story:

I walked out into the small waiting room at the Care Free Medical Clinic in Lansing, Michigan. Waiting for me was a gaunt 40-year-old man who sat hunched over in a wheelchair. He had big, black rings under his eyes and a scruffy, unshaven look. I led Richard to the examination room, where it was my duty as a volunteer to take his history and vitals. Richard was so weak that he could barely get out of his wheelchair to get on the scale, which measured him 30 pounds underweight. His arm was so frail that I thought the blood pressure cuff would squeeze the life out of him. He told me that despite noticing the deterioration of his health for over a year, he had waited until then to be seen because he didn’t have health insurance. He had not been able to afford healthcare for the past twenty years. Dr. Barry Saltman came to examine him and instantly knew that the situation was dire. Dr. Saltman spent a long time with Richard, hearing his story and treating him with respect. After some tests, Richard was diagnosed with advanced metastatic cancer. Dr. Saltman then took the time to teach Richard about his illness and explained the treatment options. Unfortunately, Richard succumbed to the cancer soon thereafter. Had Richard had health insurance and access to healthcare, however, he could have received his diagnosis earlier and lived a longer and healthier life. Dr. Saltman, as a primary care physician in mid-Michigan, had realized that there were hundreds of people in the area just like Richard. In 2004, Dr. Saltman started a free clinic. At first, the clinic had barely enough patients’ records to fill one bookshelf, but eight years later, Dr. Saltman and his colleagues have seen thousands of patients who otherwise had no one else to turn to. Dr. Saltman saw a need in his community and, unlike many others, took the initiative to act upon that need. His drive, compassion, and ability to relate to others continue to inspire me today as a medical student, six years after Dr. Saltman and I met Richard.

Enjoy some of the stories that have already been posted. We’d like to hear yours.

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