OMED 2015

Rallying cry for our age: Do you know who I am?

Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Anna Quindlen takes the stage at OMED 2015 to discuss the healing power of human touch.


During her keynote address at Sunday evening’s OMED General Session, Anna Quindlen recounted a frustrating patient encounter she had with a physician that almost prompted her to say the infamous words she had always promised herself she’d never say: “Do you know who I am?”

Although the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author would have plenty of obvious reasons to ask such a question, the words did not come from a place of entitlement or privilege, but rather from a belief in the vital importance of physicians actually getting to know their patients.

“Do you know who I am?” she said. “It might as well be the rallying cry for our age.”

Addressing the growing expansion of retail medicine, with patients at big-box clinics getting flu shots and strep tests alongside shelves of detergent and paper towels, Quindlen remarked that the human touch is the most influential factor setting family physicians apart.

“In today’s world, you only need to see the doctor in a family practice if somehow they provide more, different, better… if they provide that human contact we all crave,” she said. “You know that better than anyone.”

Quindlen also addressed the revolutionary role technology now plays in medicine, allowing patients to diagnose themselves with conditions like “low T” or carpel tunnel at the click of a button. The recent trend of patients taking more control over their health is driven, in part, by fear, Quindlen said.

“That’s why we surf the Web, talk to friends, and maybe accumulate a head full of nonsense on everything from circumcision to chemotherapy,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important for you to understand and accept why we’re freelancing the business of our own bodies—you can validate our need and thirst for information without necessarily validating the information itself.”

Acknowledging the remarkable power physicians have to make a difference in the lives of their patients, Quindlen stressed how important it is for doctors to listen and observe. “You’re there for some of the most important passages in our lives,” she said. “When you’re treating a person and not a number of symptoms, that’s a real accomplishment.”

One comment


    Is it possible to obtain a text of her presentation. Every student and practioner should have it..It is the basis of who we are as Osteopathic Physicians !

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