Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

How do patients help make us better human beings?


Read insights from a psychiatrist, pediatrician, chemical dependency specialist, critical care specialist, and a cardiologist.

Passion in the Medical Profession | May 11, 2018 | <1 min read


Margaret Chisolm, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

I’ve been moved by the Twitter hashtag #ShareAStoryinOneTweet which is FILLED with stories about experiences with patients that have made us better human beings, in addition to better clinicians.

Stories that remind us that “every second is borrowed time,” or that save us from burnout, or that teach us compassion.

As Nicholas Christakis said in response to the story I shared: “It’s experiences like this, in all their sorrow, that make me feel especially privileged to have trained as a physician.”

One of my favorite stories came from a nurse @TiaX_line who wrote:

“I was a new 22yo nurse, absorbed in heartache from a breakup like only someone of that age can be. You were newly trached & had been in ICU for 2 wks. You touched my face & asked *me* what was wrong. I learned to be less selfish that day. #ShareAStoryinOneTweet”

To read more inspiring stories like this, check out: https://twitter.com/hashtag/ShareAStoryInOneTweet?src=hash

Michael Crocetti, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians

Patients make us better human beings by challenging us to step out of our comfort zones and see the human condition through their eyes.

In med school and residency we learn so much about diseases and medicines. We’re taught to diagnose and treat the disease in front of us.

As clinicians gain experience, patients humble us and show us that behind the disease is a human being with fears, aspirations, goals, and doubts.

Clinicians become better human beings because our patients guide and teach us about the human condition.

What do you think?

Do you want to add to the conversation? Please share!

Mike Fingerhood, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

As I care for patients, I’m constantly reflecting on how I would feel in their situation—with the same illness, with their support system, in their living circumstance.

It’s often quite humbling and not unusual for me to question whether I would be able to handle adversity as well as my patients do.   

These patients are truly inspiring, reflecting the fortitude that can come with battling illness, re-enforcing why I became a physician.

Panagis Galiatsatos, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Patients’ stories create a narrative that illuminates medicine’s offering of hope. And in the end, hope is what makes us human.

Roy Ziegelstein, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Patients often share things with us about themselves—especially their experiences and their feelings—that they may not have ever shared before, even with their friends or their family. In fact, they sometimes reveal things to us as physicians that they have not even realized before sharing them with us. That gives us a window to humanity provided to no other profession on the planet, and potentially not provided to any other human being. What could be more valuable to make us better human beings than being privy to that information and treating it—and the person who shares it—as sacred and precious?