The Flawed Physician.

She stands facing a closed door.

Your door.

As her gaze converges onto
enameled surface, she notes its
texture- the evenness a comfort to
a moment of hesitation within.

Smooth and finished–flowing
imprints mapping the course of
fine fibers swept over timber.


She makes a move to knock,
but her hand pauses,
and for a moment she wonders
whether you will find her pleasant.

Whether she will be worthy of your trust.
Whether you will believe in her.

Because she is flawed.

Like veneer upon wooden door, she
is but a polished version of herself.

As she again surveys its exterior,
she is let in upon a different truth–
that from underneath the surface
the grain peeks through, coarse
and jagged, its valleys exposed,
blemish revealed, age betrayed.
It is but fresh lacquer upon a
damaged interior, eroded and
frayed by the stress of time.

Like a white coat to the skin,
it cloaks the imperfection
and vulnerability of that
which lies beneath.

A coat enshrouding
scars of personal defeats–
An awareness
of critical introspection while
striving to exhibit confidence and certainty.
A struggle
to remain objective while
craving to empathize with you.
A hunger
to continue feeling through perpetual
immersion into death and suffering,
while self-preservation casts increasingly

impenetrable layers of emotional shield.
And a fear
of not doing enough, while similarly
recognizing the peril of doing too much.

But as her knuckles meet the door,
she is reminded of an oath–taken
at the dawn of this journey–
an oath of compassion, of
integrity, of humility–

an oath to do no harm.

So as she enters
your room,

she smiles–
for she never forgot its
concluding admonition:

That one would never lose the joy of helping others.

Therefore as an imperfect human being,
she will do her best to ease your suffering,
treat your illness, be your advocate–
Not because it is her obligation,
but because this is her love–

To help her fellow man.

To care for you.

•      •      •

“…may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

-Oath of Hippocrates

•      •      •


55 thoughts on “The Flawed Physician.

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  1. Dear Phoebe,

    You have such a wonderful gift to bring heart and caring into healing. I believe that our society has been conned and tricked into believing that all of this high-tech, brainiac scientific gizmo and whizmo instrumentation and interfering with the Divine fingerprint of DNA, is just the way to go!

    As a child, I grew up in a little Mayberry in northern New Jersey. We only had one doctor in the entire town that covered an area of seven square miles. Dr. Borne was the smartest man in town, while simultaneously being an incredibly humble man.

    Dr. Borne had this gift of looking you square in the eye. I mean eyeball to eyeball, with the most sincerest and earnest look in his eye, before he would examine you. One day, when I was in my early twenties and Dr. Borne was nearing retirement; Dr. Borne admitted to me that he depended greatly upon his intuition, in treating his patients.

    I don’t know how it happened or why it happened, but it seems that intuition is now scoffed at by so many professionals in the healing arts. In my opinion, that is such a sad development.

    Phoebe, you are bringing back heart and soul to the healing arts. You are bringing back earnest and sincere caring to the art of healing individuals.

    Sincerely, Richard

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, Phoebe, this is so important and, as a flawed RN I so relate (but I am retired now.) Next week I have an appt with a new Primary Care Doc. The one I was seeing didn’t listen and I’m sure didn’t know who I was. (This is not the one at my main home, but the winter one). But I do have a wonderful nephrologist here who recommended her–the new one–as someone he thinks I will connect with.You are so important to your patients and may you continue to find joy in your care of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Victoria. I am glad to hear that you have a great nephrologist, and I hope that all goes well with your new doctor. It definitely is important to have one who you feel listens to all your needs. I wish you the best. 🙂


  3. Good evening Phoebe
    I do believe that this post is one of… and perhaps the most wonderful expression of honesty… humbleness… and compassion I have ever read… and to be able to express such tremendous emotion within your beautiful poetic artistry… is truly amazing…
    I wish this could be required reading for everyone in the medical profession and posted on the walls of every treatment room for the patient to read…
    You have enlightened us all by sharing it with us…
    Thank you…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely thoughts, Dr. P. Sammy the Spoiled Cat sent us over. He’s right as usual. You’re pretty cool. And smart. And talented. Mom and I have had experience with amazing docs like you. And also a little bit of experience with the other kind….

    Love and licks,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Genevieve [and Cupcake]! Hehe…I follow your blog from afar and love it! I am so glad to hear that you have had positive experiences with caregivers…that is always a big encouragement to me. But unfortunately, yes…there is always the ‘other kind’… 😉

      Have a wonderful day to both of you! 😀 -phoebe and samantha (the kitty)


  5. As one who has worked with many Doctors and Specialists, those who have earned the most respect from all around them are those who can admit they are human (even to themselves!) then work with the patient to find a path to wellness. You have my admiration and respect Phoebe, and I am sure that of those you work with, both for your approach to your work and as a fine poet. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
    Teaching poetry/creative writing to the medical community – wow! What an excellent idea! I can see the reaction of some of the more intractable members of your profession! Ha ha! 🙂
    You are a leading light…

    Liked by 1 person

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