Remembering Our Calling: Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015

MLK UIOWA 2015Starting on January 19, 2015 our University of Iowa and the Iowa City communities will launch the Martin Luther King Jr. Day observation. This year, jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon will be the featured speaker delivering the DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DISTINGUISHED LECTURE on January 20, 2015 from noon to one PM in the Prem Sahai Auditorium, 1110 Medical Education & Research Facility (MERF) on the University of Iowa campus.MLK  Human Rights Day 2015 Wycliffe Gordon


At first I wondered about the connection between the jazz trombonist and MLK Day. And then I found it on Gordon’s website: “In 2006, Wycliffe Gordon was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania), and cited as a champion of our music – a music that models the ideals of democracy through its performance demands for positive and productive interaction, honest communication, and commonality of soul; a music that celebrates triumph of the human spirit over adversity.”

As the 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, I wonder: What’s the best way for the average person to contribute to lifting this nation to a higher destiny? What’s my role and how do I respond to that call?

I find myself reflecting more about my role as a teacher to our residents and medical students. I wonder every day how I can improve as a role model and, at the same time, let trainees practice both what I preach and listen to their own inner calling. After all, they are the next generation of doctors.

But for now they are under my tutelage. What do I hope for them?

I hope medicine doesn’t destroy itself with empty and dishonest calls for “competence” and “quality,” when excellence is called for.

I hope that when they are on call, they’ll mindfully acknowledge their fatigue and frustration…and sit down when they go and listen to the patient.

I hope they listen inwardly as well, and learn to know difference between a call for action, and a cautionary whisper to wait and see.

I hope they won’t be paralyzed by doubt when their patients are not able to speak for themselves, and that they’ll call the families who have a stake in whatever doctors do for their loved ones.

And most of all I hope leaders in medicine and psychiatry remember that we chose medicine because we thought it was a calling. Let’s try to keep it that way.

You know, I’m on call at the hospital today and I tried to give my trainees the day off. They came in anyway.



  1. I thought it was this post by Dr. Singer. He also has a video on the Reason web site:


    • Yes, I remember that; I posted about it in early December 2014,

      What do you think of the posts by Wes Fisher and Kevin Pho (see my comment below for links; I’ve also tweeted them)? Do you agree with Pho that MOC is the least of medicine’s problems? A lot of commenters didn’t.


      • I think that MOC is just another extension of the problem. Once politicians and the business community realized just how easy it was to manipulate physicians they have been piling on ever since. It was just a matter of time before regulatory bodies and professional organizations got into the act. All of those bodies see physicians as a politically inept source of income and by exerting control they extend their power base.

        Until a physician or group of physicians steps up and proves them wrong there will be even more bad news coming down the pike.


  2. What a great trombone player! The scat is an added bonus.

    Quality wasn’t always a dirty word. Before it was subverted by managed care and its pseudoscience it used to mean something. I don’t think medicine is destroying itself – per the recent post that went viral the government and the health insurance industry gets credit for that.

    In terms of Dr. King’s call – the best I can see us doing for now is to stand our ground. There is widespread cultural acceptance of favoritism to businesses through government action. Apart from the financial services industry, the next best example is health care.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice keep it up !! interesting.
    Keep posting .

    Look in to my this week’s post also , in your own time … maybe you will connect with it .

    Thank you


%d bloggers like this: