On Medicine

Monday Musings”  for Monday July 17, 2017
Volume VII, No. 29/341


Thinking Things Through: Health Related Issues

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, ScD (Hon), DLFAPA*

(Editor’s Note: we are sharing  a  few of our letters to mostly medical publications)  

I Journals of Consequence

For about the half of a centruy that I have dwelt in the holy house of science and medicine, I have been most intrigued, gratified, enchanted and awe stricken by three publications.  I read them faithfully, and keep them all over the house and in my office.  These publictaions print articles by future Nobel Prize winners.  You can bet on the next crop of Nobel Laureates in science, medicine, chemistry and physiology by carefully reading these journals.  No, they are NOT the New England Journal of Medicine, not Lancet, not JAMA, and none of the Archives or the Scandinavian Acta series…

Well, you are anxious to know their names.  They are ScienceNature and Cell.

More recently, a fourth journal has joined this elevated pantheon-like club.  It is the Journal of Stem Cells.  Articles such as “Generation of Insulin-producing Islet-like Clusters from Human Embryonic Stem Cells” bring the reader hope, awe and fascination. the authors report the use of  embryonic stem cells to form clusters like pancreatic islets that make insulin in measurable, if not abundant amounts.

Wow!  We are really getting there.  I would like to be alive in 2040 to see how medicine is practiced!

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA
Raleigh, N.C.

II Mental Exercises Counter Chemotherapy

I am writing with regard to the excellent article “Cognitive Damage May Appear After Treatment Ends” in the January 5 issue.

Being a survivor of colon cancer, stage III with 11 nodes, and having gone through the ritual of “cutting” (surgery), “burning” (radiation therapy), and “poisoning” (chemotherapy), I can attest to the danger of drastic decrease in cognitive functioning with standard cancer treatment. The chemotherapy agents “carpet bomb” all cells; they do not spare the very sensitive neurons. I wish research would accelerate on finding chemotherapeutic agents that target cancer cells only and not the rest of the body.

As a patient, it is imperative to be aware of this cognitive devastation and devise and implement measures to counter the poisoning of the brain and killing of brain cells. My strategy was to devote an hour or two each night before going to bed to memorize material of interest. I memorized many of Lorenzo Da Ponti’s rich repertoire of Latin poetry, Greek texts by Aristotle and Homer, and the epic poetry of Persian poets Ferdowsi and Rumi.

In my experience, memorizing is a very effective method of keeping neurons exercised and alive, and I felt I was successful inwarding off the ills and side effects of my treatment.

Assad Meymandi, M.D., PH.D., DLFAPA
Chapel Hill, N.C.

III Marketing Advice Article Desecrates The Proper Practice of Medicine
Regarding “Creating buzz: New approaches to Marketing”:

I disagree with the content, intent and suggested practice of “marketing” one’s practice reflected in your article. Medicine is not a commodity, it is not a business and it ought not to be regarded in mere secular terms. Medicine is a priesthood, and those of us privileged to enter its holy temple should take vows of service and altruism, above all. The idea of promoting business in medicine and having a business model of advertising one’s services is a desecration of what Sir William Osler taught.

In recent years, we have seen the lofty position of physicians eroded in American society. I believe if a physician is knowledgeable and skillful, and combines those earned attributes with compassion and a spirit of service, advertising is not needed. People will flock to your door without the slick and ethically challenged manners your article suggests.

Let us not desecrate the holy house of medicine with commercial and cheap schemes.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA
Raleigh, N.C.

IV More On The Unwelcome And  Ugly Word of “Marketing” in Practice of Medicine

Dear Sir:

I am appalled by your article in the “Business” section of AM News.  Once again, with total disregard for the dignity of our profession of Medicine, the sanctity of its calling and priesthood of its mission, you have lowered the practice of medicine to the level of selling a commodity, dealing in a business, and reducing it to a common place “thing” that you pick up at a store on your way home…

Medicine has enough detractors and enemies that are dedicated to stripping it form the respect it deserves.  We do not need for AM News, a newspaper that is the official public face of American medicine, to further push us to the brink.

I believe we must do all we can to preserve and protect the dignity of our profession and discourage advertising.  It is an abomination and a literal prostitution of our profession when we join with a bunch of merchants who push their goods.  In practice of medicine, if we are knowledgeable and compassionate; if we follow the holy teachings of Sir William Osler and strive for excellence; patients will tear our door down and seek us out.  Soliciting, advertising and merchandising our skills and art are foolish and should not be tolerated by AMA, much less touted as you do in your Business articles in AM News.

Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA


*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He received Raleigh Medal of Art in 2001, inducted to Raleigh Hall of Fame 2013, elected Lifetime Trustee, North Carolina Symphony in 2015, and 2016 recipient of NC Award, Fine Arts.

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