There are few who combine a career as physician, teacher and author as well as Abraham Verghese, whose name is a frequent byline in newspapers and magazines across the world. He himself is also a regular focus of attention in media – both medical and general – that range from National Public Radio, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the New York Times to The Guardian, and The Times of India.
His work as a physician informs his writing and the reflection that comes through his writing helps him empathize with his patients, regarding them as human beings who are suffering, fearful and in need of comfort and reassurance. Imagining his patients’ experience has driven his work throughout his medical career. His emphasis on empathy and healing is the focus of his talks, nationally and internationally, as he stresses the importance of the patient-physician relationship in an era of advances in medical technology that tend to depersonalize medical care.
“I still find,” he says, “the best way to understand a hospitalized patient is not by staring at a computer screen, but going to see that patient. For it is at the bedside that I can figure out what is important to the patient and how the data you have accumulated makes sense.”