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Sometimes, it’s not the treatment that makes the biggest difference; it’s how you treat the patient
Faculty Excellence Awards – September 2009
Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award
Sometimes, it’s not the treatment that makes the biggest difference; it’s how you treat the patient — just ask anyone who has worked with this year’s winner of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, Dr. Ed Read. “He understands that medicine is about whole-person care and teaches the students to not only use the clinical skills we have learned but also to listen to the patient, because behind each patient’s physical pain is often a person with a stressed-out and depressed psyche. He has shown me that listening to patients, holding their hand, and even praying for them if they are open to it, can often do more for a patient than ordering multiple diagnostic tests.”
Dr. Read is inspiring, both professionally and personally. “Dr. Read is a highly competent and compassionate physician who practices whole person care, respects his patients, colleagues, residents and students and emphasizes practicing integrity in medicine and life,” wrote one colleague. Added another, “He is very involved in the lives of medical students and encourages them to not only have successful careers in medicine but to also lead fulfi lled, balanced and purposeful lives.”
A man of deep faith, Dr. Read reaches out to his students, hosting weekly Bible studies for medical students and a group for medical students and spouses, and sponsoring the Christian Medical and Dental Association. Beyond our borders, he has led yearly mission trips to El Salvador, providing care and compassion via a mobile free clinic and treating those who would have no other way to receive care. It is through these mission trips, as well as his day-to-day conduct at the hospital, that Dr. Read communicates the need for cultural sensitivity among physicians. “For example, in El Salvador, a country with many Catholic churches, at one of the outdoor clinics, the students had piled our belongings on a shrine of the Virgin Mary. Dr. Read caught our mistake and corrected it so that we would not offend and lose the trust of our patients before we even met them.”
While a CV can give an accurate picture of what a physician’s medical achievements are, the best evidence for a practitioner’s humanism can be found in the testimonies of those who know and work with him: “He embodies kindness, compassion, humility and wisdom and is the consummate professional.”
“Dr. Read demonstrates three important characteristics that every physician should exhibit: competency, compassion and being a good listener.”
“Dr. Read continually reminds me what a privilege it is to take care of patients. ”
“In a department where providers can become hardened and cynical, Ed approaches each patient with kindness and humility.”
While new at Hunter Holmes McGuire Medical Center of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the impact Dr. Read has had on the lives of VCU medical students, colleagues, staff and patients will long be remembered and appreciated.