The concept of the ideal, or good, physician has always exerted a powerful hold on the imagination. According to patient surveys [21-23], traits of the ideal physician include not only mastery of the technical elements of care but also confidence, empathy, forthrightness, humaneness, personal interest, respect, thoroughness, courage, prudence, trustworthiness, and honesty. Throughout his career, Dr. DeBakey has exemplified this ideal.
Dr. DeBakey was as stern a taskmaster as I have experienced. He demanded that the patients' well being be the primary goal of medical care. He did not expect difficulties to be overcome without sacrifice or care to be given without compassion. There was no excuse for ineptitude, and mediocrity could only be overcome by diligent work and by utmost application of your talents and experience. Lack of dedication, no matter the personal cost, was never acceptable. Giving up was never voluntary but only an acquiescence to nature's judgment, and quitting was not an option. These were valuable lessons for the care of critically ill patients—lessons that have been guiding principles throughout my career.
Today, at age 98, Dr. DeBakey continues to be an inspiration and a role model, especially for those of us who have known him personally, and I will always be deeply grateful for his mentorship and support.
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