The Staff and the Serpent

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If laughter is good medicine, then the twenty-two essays offered here by Dr. Allen B. Weisse should prove a hearty antidote to a host of ills suffered by doctors, students and would-be students of medicine, amateur and professional medical historians, and, of course, patients, those of us who wonder what the medical profession is all about and how it affects us.

Often humorous and always informative, these essays cover a broad range of medical subjects. Weisse tackles medical ethics, offers advice to medical and premedical students and their families, delves into unusual episodes in medical history, confronts considerations of aging and self-image, and discusses the vagaries of rewards and recognition available from medical research. He also examines honesty in medical thinking, investigates ways of dealing with bureaucracies, and considers ways of learning to live with oneself. Finally, he evaluates the changing nature of medicine and medical research and looks into the roles of minorities and women in medicine.

Weisse knows whereof he speaks, enlivening each essay with personal anecdotes. When he explains past and current medical school admissions policies, for example, he approaches the subject with the combined knowledge of a former premedical student, a medical student, a faculty member, and an admissions chairperson over the past thirty years. As a medical researcher whose chief turned against him, he certainly knows what he is talking about in "Betrayal." He also writes with authority in his humorous account of how he, as a senior physician, struggles to keep on top of the overwhelming onslaught of medical advances ("Confessions of Creeping Obsolescence"). And in an essay to boost all of our spirits, he tells how an ivory tower physician (Weisse himself) gets drawn up in the service of the IRS bureaucracy and winds up tweaking its nose a bit ("In the Service of the IRS").

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the vigor, wit, and élan that characterize Weisse’s essays than his titles. "On Chinese Restaurants" deals with unusual syndromes and the way in which they have evolved and affected the way we look at ourselves. Other titles are "Pneumocystis and Me," "The Vanishing Male," "Say It Isn’t ‘No," "Bats in the Belfry or Bugs in the Belly?: Helicobacter and the Resurrection of Johannes Fibiger," and "PC: Politically Correct or Potentially Corrupting?"

Finally, two words in this book’s subtitle succinctly characterize Weisse’s essays: pertinent and impertinent—germane and irreverent information rakishly presented.

A collection of humorous essays.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809321490
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Allen B. Weisse is a practicing cardiologist and professor of medicine at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark. Among his previously published books are The Man’s Guide to Good Health, Medical Odysseys, and the award-winning Conversations in Medicine, an oral history of interviews with outstanding medical scientists.

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Table of Contents

A Note on the Title
1 Greetings 1
2 Betrayal 18
3 The Vanishing Male 26
4 Pneumocystis and Me: The Small Joys and Great Satisfactions of Medical Sleuthing 29
5 Tuberculosis: Why "The White Plague"? (Another Detective Story) 37
6 Say It Isn't "No": The Power of Positive Thinking in the Publication of Medical Research 45
7 Beyond the Bench: A Vote for Clinical Research 50
8 Mostly about Books - and Medicine 54
9 Confessions of Creeping Obsolescence 60
10 Man's Best Friend 64
11 "Non-Cognitive" Comes Home to Roost 69
12 Bats in the Belfry or Bugs in the Belly? Helicobacter and the Resurrection of Johannes Fibiger 73
13 Whither Our Children? 86
14 A Sin for Saint William? 92
15 In the Service of the IRS 97
16 What's in a Name? 103
17 PC: Politically Correct or Potentially Corrupting? 107
18 SI Units: Wrong for the Right Reasons 112
19 The Long and the Short and the Rest of It 118
20 On Chinese Restaurants, Prolapsing Heart Valves, and Other Medical Conundrums 122
21 So, You Want to Be a Doctor? 129
22 While the Getting's Good 137
Index 145
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