I had just returned from a run, completed my triple-S (ask a guy) and was getting dressed when a large truck drove by, vibrating the condo. Being from BC, as the sound and violent shaking built I quickly recognized this as an earthquake.
As objects began to launch themselves from the walls my dilemma became clear. Run for safety in my birthday suit or tempt possible death by taking time to put on underwear and shorts—I chose death. I later discovered that my boxer briefs had been on backwards all day.
Living along a fault line, I had experienced minor quakes before but nothing like this 6.7 on the Richter scale monster I survived on the Big Island of Hawaii in 2006 (I know this information because it was on the T-shirt I purchased the next day—you have to love free enterprise). The thing that surprised me more than the obvious earth moving was the loudness of it—a little like standing by a 747 jet at takeoff.
Haiti was recently devastated by a much more powerful 7.0 quake, and then Chile was hit by an 8.8 quake, then Turkey was struck by a 5.9 quake. The world has mobilized its resources to try and help these countries. It’s amazing how other nations and their populations respond in such a positive way during events like these. It gives my tenuous belief in the future of humanity a large, positive boost and got me thinking about charity.
Charity is defined as kindness, generosity, helpfulness, and understanding toward others, or as the voluntary giving of money or other help to those in need. Does charity really begin at home? I wonder how many people have walked by some homeless guy to give or mail a donation to Haiti.
As physicians we are in the unique situation of being aware of our suffering patients’ many needs. I am embarrassed to admit that I have an amazing capacity to ignore these needs and carry on as if there is nothing I can do to help.
Many of my colleagues demonstrate outstanding examples of charity. One physician I know gives supermarket gift cards anonymously to deserving patients. Another pays his patient’s tabs at local eateries when they are unaware of his presence. Yet another purchases food and leaves it for the local homeless to consume.
This is true philanthropy—giving help with no expected reward. Contrast this to our elected officials, who give away our money and take credit for it. I would respect them far more if they led by example and gave from their own pockets without trumpeting their apparent benevolence.
Each of us should strive to make a small difference by giving more of ourselves. If charity is defined as kindness, this could be as little as taking the time to sit down and connect with a patient. Try it; go on I dare you. Perform some random act of charity and see how it feels.
One warning: put on your clothes first.
Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee
of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.
BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:
- Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
- There is no period after the journal name.
- Page numbers are not abbreviated.
For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org