Becoming a doctor requires years of formal education, but one learns the practice of medicine only through direct encounters with the fragile others called “patients.” Pediatrician Brian Volck recounts his own education in the mysteries of suffering bodies, powerful words, and natural beauty. It's a curriculum where the best teachers are children and their mothers, the classrooms are Central American villages and desert landscapes, and the essential texts are stories, poems, and paintings. Through practices of focused attention, he grows from detached observer of his patients' lives into an uneasy witness and grateful companion. From the inner city to the Navajo Nation and from the Grand Canyon to the mountains of Honduras, Volck learns to listen to children unable to talk, to assist in healing when cure is impossible, and to love those whose life and experiences are radically different from his own.
This is not a how-to book or a brief for reforming medical education. Attending Others is a highly personal account of what the author learned about medicine after he completed his formal education. The short answer, it turns out, is pretty much everything.