On Becoming a Doctor of Humane Letters

Authors

  • Curt Tribble, MD Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1532/hsf.1647

Abstract

In an era of rapid, cheap, and efficient electronic communication, the practice—and art—of letter writing has faded. There are many reasons for us as physicians and surgeons to resist this evolution. And, there are many opportunities to employ letter writing to the benefit of ourselves, our patients, and our colleagues. A true Doctor of Humane Letters is an honorary degree, generally awarded for significant contributions to society.  However, given that humane can be defined as showing compassion, understanding, mercy, and tolerance, we can all strive to be worthy of such a distinction. There are many mundane letters familiar to us all, such as letters of recommendation, letters of thanks, and letters of commendation. However, I would like to offer some suggestions about other less common, but useful, types of letters that might prove valuable to physicians both in training and in practice. These include letters of inquiry, condolence, reflection, and explanation, as well as some notes about missives that are often best written but not sent.

References

Friedman EM. 2016. You’ve Got Mail. JAMA 315:2275-6.

Spencer F. 1979. The Gibbon Lecture. Bulletin, The American College of Surgeons:15-22.

Tribble C, Merrill WH. 2016. In your own words: toward a more perfect union of patient care and education. Ann Thorac Surg 101:837-40.

Quotes

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/letters

http://www.ajc.com/news/opinion/reviving-the-art-of-letter-writing/nQpGK/

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/664197-we-do-not-learn-from-experience-we-learn-from-reflecting

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/advice

http://www.wishafriend.com/quotes/qid/873/

http://pivotmarketing.com/the-art-of-snail-mail/

Published

2016-08-19

How to Cite

Tribble, MD, C. (2016). On Becoming a Doctor of Humane Letters. The Heart Surgery Forum, 19(4), E150-E152. https://doi.org/10.1532/hsf.1647

Issue

Section

Articles