The following piece was published in the Archives of Dermatology in 2002. (I was the editor of a section then on the art of medicine and this is one of the pieces I was most proud of. I’ll resurrect a few others for the Online J by and by. DJE)
Disaffected doctors are now, I have heard, a worldwide phenomenon. How can this be, given the satisfactions that the practice of medicine offers? Some say it is simply the burden of overwork; others, the microsupervisory and hyperaccountability culture of audit and appraisal; some even, the domination of our journals by impenetrable genetics and improbable epidemiology. The real reasons may be hard to identify, yet we may still be able to counteract them. Some medicines work even when we don’t know why.
Let me tell you, if I may, about a trip that I made some time ago to see Jack. We had been exchanging letters for the past 10 years, ever since I had read his engaging biography of Samuel Johnson, the 18th-century English literary critic, lexicographer, and poet. I had been giving a dermatology lecture at Yale and found myself the next morning, in the snowbound New England of February 1994, boarding an Amtrak train for Boston.
To read full essay see: Going to See Jack, Rycroft
Richard Rycroft is a retired dermatologist living in Somerset, England. He is presently an actor and a poet and does not much miss his academic pursuits at St. Johns. We, however, remember his scientific contributions well and are waiting for a book of his poetry to be published. This essay, Going to See Jack, reminded us of a piece in the NY Times about a visit to Boston by the poet, Seamus Heaney. See: S.Heaney: A Memento.