On Being a Doctor

LaCombe, M. A., ed.

Primary Category: Literature / Literature

Genre: Anthology (Mixed Genres)

Annotated by:
Willms, Janice
  • Date of entry: Dec-31-1996
  • Last revised: Sep-05-2006


Gathered from four years of volumes of the journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, this collection of short prose essays and poetry written by health care providers (largely physicians) covers almost the entire range of the experience of doctoring, from personal illness and illness in the physician’s family, to all the joys and sorrows inherent in practicing medicine. Seventy-three entries make up the collection, which has been divided into six categories: The Doctor Trains and Lives His Life; She Relates to Family and Friends; He Deals with His Own Illness; She Relates to Her Patients; He Confronts Death; They Find Doctors Good and Bad; and Search for a Mentor. The longest essay is less than six pages in length and most of them are two to three pages.


In 1990 the editors of Annals of Internal Medicine initiated the "On Being a Doctor" section in its then monthly publication. Michael LaCombe, MD, was asked to serve as editor of this section. As he says himself in his Preface to the collection, "No one could have anticipated the response from physician-writers and from Annal’s readers." In general the quality of the short prose pieces is very high, likely reflecting the firm editorial standards set by LaCombe. The poetry is solid, but not always as outstanding as the prose. Altogether, or piece by piece, this collection is invaluable to the medicine and literature corpus.


Many of the works in this collection appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine, 1990 to 1994


American College of Physicians

Place Published





Michael A. LaCombe