As a teacher, he passed on a legacy of truly seeing the patient
Mark Feeney’s tribute to Dr. Bernard Lown, who died Feb. 16 at 99, celebrated an extraordinary individual whose impact on medicine and health care was profound (”Pioneer cardiologist also shared a Nobel Prize,” Obituaries, Feb. 17). What should be added to the list of Dr. Lown’s scientific and humanist skills and accomplishments is his unique ability as a teacher.
He transmitted to medical students, residents, fellows, and colleagues how to care for a person as well as their disease. In one of his writings, from a 2009 edition of the Lown Forum, he advised, “Even at its scientific best, medicine is dependent on the intimate story. For doctors, this is an exhilarating act of discovery; for patients, it identifies a healer. Medicine is ultimately a social discipline. It begins with a unique story from a fellow human being craving help.”
His ultimate legacy will be the physicians he has trained who will train others in his approach to patient care, who will then care for coming generations.
Dr. Gerald H. Angoff
The writer recently retired from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, where he was a clinical assistant professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. He was a cardiology fellow with Dr. Lown at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health in 1977-78.
As an activist, he showed that a safer, saner world starts with the individual
Thank you for your tribute to Dr. Bernard Lown, a brilliant and caring cardiologist, and an activist for a saner and safer world. Dr. Lown was instrumental in founding Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
In the midst of our current crises, it’s good to remember that positive and hopeful initiatives can make a huge difference in the course of events. Many of us don’t have an expansive influence, but our actions make a difference. As the Irish statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” It really is up to individuals of conscience to believe in their collective power to create a just and livable future.