Death and the missing piece of medical school

by Ofi Zukhrufia

“If he was pursuing a delusion, so were we.”

ideas.ted.com

Dying and death confront every new doctor and nurse. In this book excerpt, Atul Gawande asks: Why are we not trained to cope with mortality?

I learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality wasn’t one of them. I was given a dry, leathery corpse to dissect in my first term — but that was solely a way to learn about human anatomy. Our textbooks had almost nothing on aging or frailty or dying. How the process unfolds, how people experience the end of their lives and how it affects those around them? That all seemed beside the point. The way we saw it — and the way our professors saw it — the purpose of medical schooling was to teach us how to save lives, not how to tend to their demise.

The one time I remember discussing mortality was during an hour we spent on The…

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