Honesty IS the Best Policy

by Leslie

When I was a pediatric resident at Boston Children’s Hospital, we made rounds the old fashioned way – we actually went round and saw and examined the patients. The patients profited and so did we.

The Cardiology service was a tight ship run by the “Father of Pediatric Cardiology,” Dr. Alexander Nadas. At four o’clock every day, this former Hungarian behemoth made bedside rounds with the whole team. Trailing behind him were, in descending order, the attending physicians, the cardiology fellows, the residents, and finally the students. He taught us to listen to the patients – to their history and to their hearts. He would place a stethoscope on the patient’s chest and have each of us listen. And one by one, each listener would say they heard the murmur, that is, until it was my turn. Then I, unlike the others, would say (especially early in my experience) that I could not (hear the murmur). But I learned – tons!

The following year I was summoned to Dr. Nadas’ office. When I arrived, I was stunned to receive an offer of a cardiology fellowship starting the following year.

“But Dr. Nadas,” I said, “You always called me ‘ol’ tin ears,’ despite my protestations to the contrary.”

He replied, “You were the only honest one.”

When I turned down the offer (having already decided to pursue further training in pediatric infectious diseases), it was Dr. Nadas’ turn to be surprised. But he accepted my decision – eventually – with the honest integrity I had come to expect of him, a great man with whom I had the great privilege of training.

April, 2013

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