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My Own Country
, Abraham Verghese
Abraham Verghese is Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University Medical School and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. He was born in Ethiopia to parents from Kerala, India who worked as teachers. He is a Syro-Malabar Christian...
's first book and a New York Times Notable Book
the year it appeared in 1994, has been in print since it was published. It is used in colleges and medical school
A medical school is a tertiary educational institution—or part of such an institution—that teaches medicine. Degree programs offered at medical schools often include Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Bachelor/Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, master's degree, or other post-secondary...
s throughout North America and across the world because of the way it communicates the sense of empathy and compassion so often missing in medical school education in an era of high technology and reliance on computers as primary diagnostic tools.
My Own Country
traces the story of a young infectious-disease physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...
in the mid-80s in Johnson City, Tennessee
Johnson City is a city in Carter, Sullivan, and Washington counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee, with most of the city being in Washington County...
, who began to treat patients with a then unknown disease. Because of the seemingly un-ending influx of patients with the same symptoms and for whom there was, as yet, no effective treatment, Dr. Verghese became, of necessity, the town's AIDS
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus...
expert. As much as he gave to his patients in terms of caring and empathetic treatment, he gained back in terms of understanding and lasting lessons in how to heal when there is no cure. Often, he was the only one at his patients' bedside when family and friends, fearful of or in denial about the disease stayed away. From the sorrow of so many deaths and ugly displays of prejudice, from his giving of so much time and comfort, and the unraveling of his own domestic life and from the seeming hopelessness of the situation came a book of such richness and humanity that the story is uplifting and hopeful even as it plumbs the depths of human sadness.
The book was adapted for a 1998 TV movie.