Chapter 16
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The Things They Carry

Abraham Verghese discusses doctor’s bags, white coats, and finding the right tools for the job

October 8, 2012 Stanford Medical School professor and The New York Times best-seller list author Abraham Verghese has made his case for the classic but fading image of doctors clad in white coats, their pockets bulging with instruments. Writing online for the “Well” section of The New York Times, Verghese recalls with rich detail the doctors’ bags carried by his early mentors, first when he was a medical student in India and then a resident in Johnson City, Tennessee. His respect for these mentors led him to carry his own brimming bag of instruments as a new doctor in the early eighties. Rather than replacing bedside evaluation of patients, Verghese argues, the development of new, lighter-weight technology and ever more sophisticated diagnostic imaging can help doctors improve it. Verghese offers a hopeful vision of these advancements: “I see us bringing more tools to the bedside, and therefore spending more time with patients, instead of sending them hither and thither to diagnostic suites. The more time with the patient, the better.”

Read the rest of the essay The New York Times.