Patients Are a Virtue. Clinical Tales in the Art of Medicine
by Brian T. Maurer. 2006.
Interested readers can purchase print copies online or download an e-book at
Print copy: $14.34; E-book: $5.00.
Reviewed by Howard Spiro (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Brian Maurer is a physician-assistant specializing in pediatrics, which he has practiced for some 30 years
in what must be (he does not specify), a small central New England town where a number of his patients seem
to fall below the poverty level.
He writes about his patients with the skill of Richard Selzer: refreshingly enough, he find in mundane occurrences,
and in patients others might regard as banal, the poetry and pathos of life. Not every patient that he writes about
has a dramatic problem, epiphanies are rare, but every patient has a story to tell. It is the tiny tragedies of
everyday life and sometimes the joys that sustain him and his readers.
Maurer has a gift for recording conversations. His stories flow smoothly and realistically, and they are compelling,
at only three pages or so. They will be of particular interest to young mothers and fathers since they circle around
the intricacies of family life and in the problems that patients bring to their pediatrician. And of course nursing
students and medical students will find them fun to read.
I warn medical students that to be a pediatrician, you have to have a soul of the old “circuit rider” to maintain
your sanity, an interest in people more than in disease. This book gives brilliant witness to just that kind of
humane medicine that attracts those who want to comfort as much as cure.
Published: December 6, 2006