This is a collection of poems about patients, written by a young physician in the late 1960s. The book is organized around the theme of a hospital ward. Each poem is named for a patient and has the patient’s disease as its subtitle. The poet composed these poems during his own illness when, as he says in the original Introduction, “my patients reappeared to me, and I lived again in my mind all the many emotions we experienced together.” K. Dale Beernick died of chronic myelocytic leukemia at the age of 31 in 1969. In Ward Rounds he recounts his experiences as a medical student and house officer. He uses a variety of forms and techniques, including rhyme, blank verse, haiku, and even one villanelle. The poems vary in quality and impact. Among the best are "Penny Brown" (rheumatic heart disease), "Theodosus Bull" (delirium tremens), "Anonymous" (spontaneous abortion), and "Minnie Freeme" (post-necrotic cirrhosis).  


This new edition, published over 50 years after the original, includes a brief foreword by the author’s widow and a substantial new Introduction by Richard Ratzan MD, in which he writes, “His poems illuminate insights into the kinds of patients physicians and nurses encounter regularly.” He also notes, “The anachronistic medicine of Ward Rounds is one of its charms.” I agree that these poems, in no small part, provide a poetic peeks into the history of mid-20th century medicine. 


The First Edition of Ward Rounds was published in 1970 by Washington Square East


Grayson Books

Place Published

West Hartford, Connecticut


3rd Edition 2022

Page Count