This memoir of a life in medicine takes the writer from St. Louis to a Navajo reservation to Central America to the east coast and from urban hospitals to ill-equipped rural clinics. It offers a wide range of reflections on encounters with patients that widen and deepen his sense of calling and  understanding of what it means to do healing work.  He learns to listen to tribal elders, to what children communicate without words, to worried parents, and to his own intuition while calling on all the skills he acquired in a rigorous medical education.  Always drawn to writing, Volck takes his writing work (and play) as seriously as his medical practice, and muses on the role of writing in the medical life as he goes along.


These stories from medical life, which include glimpses of personal and family life and of friendships begun in clinics and long cherished, are both elegant and humble.  Volck seems to be one of those writers who need and want to write to give shape and clarity to encounters that stay in the mind and heart, and sometimes in the gut, long after they are “over.”  They are intimate without presumption and illuminating without pretension, and often dramatic without sensationalism.  He gives due regard to the ways others have taught him who don’t come from his own medical or spiritual tradition, while recognizing what he draws from his own training in both areas.  A beautiful, memorable book, "Attending Others" is well worth sharing, especially with those in their first years of professional life in medicine.    


Cascade Books

Place Published

Eugene, OR

Page Count