I was one of those crazy folks who loved medical school—not just the clinical years, but the pre-clinical sciences as well. The transition from pre-clinical to clinical can be rather unnerving (picture learning how to do a pelvic exam on paid models). One of my first clinical experiences was in our physical exam class. Much of this was done on each other (not the pelvics), but we were also paired with attending physicians who would take us to see—gasp!—actual patients.
The guy I was paired with was old—impossibly old. I wondered to myself if he still had a jar of leeches in his office. But he wore medicine like an old, comfortable coat. I, on the other had, was wearing my short white coat for the first time, and feeling particularly clueless. When we were on our way to see some of his hospitalized patients, he said we had to stop by the ER to see a patient of his—the ER! Cool!
The one thing I remember was the EKG. He picked it up, glanced at the red and white paper with the 12 separate tracing on it, and said, “yeah, he’s probably fine.” He didn’t teach me to read EKGs. But he showed me that some day I would be able to glance at one for a moment and pronounce someone “OK” or “not OK”. It was magic.
Anyway, my alumni newsletter arrived in my inbox today. “Dr. Paul Winter was a senior attending physician and associate professor of medicine emeritus…He is survived by…”
Thanks, Dr. Winter, for helping keep the magic alive.