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Thursday, July 25, 2024


From the Editor – 5.31.2006

By Rick Racela

Benjamin Carson was the dumbest kid in the class in elementary school.
The Afro-American was raised in Detroit, Michigan, in a single-parent home, “in dire poverty.” His mother had left school in the third grade.  Married at 13, she learned after two children that her husband was a bigamist.  She worked two or three jobs at a time.
On medical assistance, Benjamin and his mother would wait for hours in the clinic. And as they sat, Benjamin would hear doctors being paged.  He thought it was wonderful. If only someday he could hear his own name paged that way: “Dr. Carson. Dr. Carson.”
Dr. Benjamin S. Carson Sr., was the convocation speaker for the New Jersey Medical School last week.
He is professor and director for pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
You could have heard a scalpel drop last week as he addressed the 162 medical school graduates. He brought them, and their friends and families, to their feet with applause not unlike the cheers of appreciation at a Broadway musical.
The diversity in this graduating class, as this country prepares to build a wall between itself and Mexico, is worth note.
There were three Patels and  two Koreens.  There was an Alvarez, a De La Cruz, a  Marquez, a Suarez, a Torres. A Yoo and a Yun.  A Hao, a Kim, a Le and a Lee.   A Mukerji, a  Pothula, a Rassheed and a Shah. A Beiermeister, a Giangrante, a Prystowsky. A Daniels, a Long, an Olsen, and a Williams.
In elementary school, Benjamin Carson had low self-esteem and a hot temper.  He told last week’s graduates that, when he was in the fifth grade, his mother limited the TV to two pre-selected programs a week and required Benjamin and his older brother, Christopher, to read and do a written report on two books a week.
“You can be anybody and do anything,” she told them.
It was a turning point. It was not long before his classmates stopped teasing the dumbest kid.
He graduated high school at the top of his class and earned a scholarship to Yale where, in his first year, his counselor told him he wasn’t cut out for college.  Carson graduated there and from the University of Michigan Medical School and went on to Hopkins.
“He wasn’t cut out to be a counselor,” joked Carson.
Today, Carson is one of the world’s top brain surgeons, performing hundreds of operations on sick children a year. To stay focused, he reads from the Bible, the book of Proverbs, and prays,  “Just give me wisdom to know what to do and what not to do.”
 He told the graduates, with eight years of study behind them and four years of residency ahead, to care about people.
“Everybody goes to a doctor,” he noted.  “And people hang on our every word.”
Success should not be measured by one’s “house, car, bank account or honorary degrees,” he said.  Success would depend on their humanitarianism.
He himself is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund to recognize young people for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.
He sounded close to angry as he urged the fledgling doctors to “become proactive” because medical decisions are being made by “third parties with no interest in patient care.”
“Don’t let others be the administrators of health care,” he urged.
He also had some pretty simple advice: “Think about others first, and be nice to everybody for a week.”
Incidentally, Dr. Carson’s mother went on to get her GED, to graduate from college, and to receive an honorary PhD.
The title of his speech was “Hippocrates versus Hypocrisies.”
Last week’s Medical School graduates stood to recite this version of The Oath of Hippocrates.
Our doctors don’t need to hear it again.  But the rest of you, most of whom “have a doctor,” and many of you whose visits begin with, “Show me the money” or “Do you have your co-pay?” might want to read the words by which your doctor is bound.
I do solemnly swear by that which I hold most sacred:
That I will be loyal to the profession of medicine and just and generous to its members.
That I will lead my life and practice my art in uprightness and honor.
That into whatsoever house I shall enter, it shall be for the good of the sick, holding myself aloof from wrong, from corruption, and from the tempting of others to vice.
That I will exercise my art solely for the care of my patients and will give no drug and perform no operation for a criminal purpose, far less suggest it.
That whatsoever I shall see or hear of the lives of people which is not fitting to be spoken, I will keep inviolably secret.
These things I do promise and in proportion as I am faithful to this my oath, may happiness and good repute be ever mine and the opposite if I shall be forsworn.

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