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A book club for doctors: Bestselling author’s visit inspires UB medical faculty and students to discuss humanism in medicine

Abraham Verghese, author of “Cutting for Stone” and “My Own Country,” will discuss the art of medicine and patients’ rights on April 8 in Buffalo

Release Date: April 3, 2014

Abraham Verghese

Abraham Verghese
Photo: Barbi Reed

To generate interest in Verghese's talk, UB partnered with the Just Buffalo Literary Center, Richard T. Sarkin Foundation and Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy to host book club discussions.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Bestselling author Abraham Verghese speaks and writes about the need to “minister to more than just the body, but also to the soul.”

With that message attracting attention nationwide, faculty and students at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences have been eager to get the most out of Verghese’s April 8 talk through the Just Buffalo Literary Series. It takes place at 8 p.m. in Kleinhans Music Hall, 71 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.

To generate interest, especially within the local medical community, UB partnered with the Just Buffalo Literary Center, Richard T. Sarkin Foundation and Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy to host two book club discussion meetings since January in the Frank Lloyd Wright Martin House Complex.

Nearly 50 participants attended each meeting, led by Linda Pessar, MD, director of the new UB Center for Medical Humanities, Richard Cowan, MD, UB professor of neurology and Barbara Cole, PhD, artistic director of Just Buffalo.

Discussions focused on Verghese’s books, “My Own Country,” an autobiographical work about his experiences during the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and “Cutting for Stone,” a novel about a surgeon’s life in Ethiopia.

Medical humanism — in which the goal is not just eradicating disease but effectively communicating, empathizing and showing compassion for patients — has been an important focus of the UB medical school.

In 2012, UB became one of just 10 institutions nationwide chosen that year by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to create a pilot chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society for medical residents and fellows. The UB medical school also is creating innovative curricula and programs through its recently established Center for Medical Humanities.

“Thanks to our community collaboration, medical students, residents, UB faculty, community physicians and booklovers in general engaged in lively discussions about doctoring and cultural diversity through literature,” says Roseanne Berger, MD, associate professor of family medicine and senior associate dean for graduate medical education in the UB medical school.

Verghese is professor and Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor and vice chair for the theory and practice of medicine at the School of Medicine at Stanford University. He was founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

For more information on his April 8 visit, go to http://www.justbuffalo.org/literary-buffalo/literary-buffalo-calendar/event/?id=1305

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
Senior Editor, Medicine
Tel: 716-645-4605
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
Twitter: @egoldbaum