Category: Wisdom

Wisdom: What is it? (part 4)

Born in England in 1923, Dr James C Haworth studied medicine at the University of Birmingham (Birmingham, United Kingdom) and held postgraduate posts in internal medicine and paediatrics at the General and Children’s Hospitals in that city. After two years serving in the Royal Navy, he underwent further paediatric training in Cincinnati (USA), London, Liverpool and Sheffield (United Kingdom).
…Read the rest of this article

Wisdom: What is it? (part 3)

Difficult colleagues
A fellow paediatrician once or twice said to me in private something like: “I don’t like Dr. So and So. I can’t work well with him”. The first question to ask is what does he mean by “like”? Does he mean that he doesn’t like the way he dresses, or does his hair, or the way he speaks, or he doesn’t use enough soap and water? Yet any of these, or a dozen or so other variables, really do not matter. One should be able to work with a colleague despite any difference in tastes or manner. …Read the rest of this article

Difficult patients
Teenagers aside, I have always felt that children who cry and scream, throw themselves around and have tantrums in the office do so because of poor technique on the physician’s part. I used to teach students that when dealing with a small child (aged, say, between nine and 36 months), I would appear to ignore the child at first, and just speak to the parent who I had seated by my side with the child on his or her knee, while watching the patient out of the corner of my eye the whole time. These students had often just come off their internal medicine rotation where they had been taught to conduct the physical examination of a patient undressed on the table, starting at the head and working down to the feet.
…Read the rest of this article


The request to write an essay on ‘wisdom’ that could be passed on from an old and retired paediatrician, such as myself, to a young and aspiring trainee in paediatrics just starting out, led me to ask myself what wisdom really is.The dictionary defines the word as “knowledge and experience”, “accumulated learning” and “good sense”. If ‘knowledge’ (as the dictionary adds) is “understanding gained by experience”, what then is “experience”? This is a definition I came across many years ago: “Experience is the ability to make the same mistake with increasing confidence”. All of which didn’t get me very far. Instead, I prefer to write briefly on a few topics that sometimes cause difficulties in the practice of paediatrics and particularly about their management, which seems to have worked reasonably well for me.
…Read the rest of this article