This I Believe

Dietrich, Harry F.

  • Harry Dietrich describes how his family background, his teachers, and the tools and techniques invented by doctors of previous generations have all equipped him to achieve healing more effectively than ever before, and his belief that his responsibility is to help dispel fear in his patients.
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And now, This I Believe. A series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Harry F. Dietrich is a doctor and his is an American doctor's creed. His background is not unlike that of many other physicians. He was born in Arizona, attended Harvard Medical School, and interned at Boston Children's Hospital. Later he was in residence at Los Angeles Children's Hospital. Since nineteen-thirty-seven he has been in private pediatric practice, except for the interruption of three and a half years with the Marine Corps. In
addition to this practice he is senior attending physician at the division of pediatrics of the Beverly Hills Clinic and a professor at the UCLA medical school. This is Dr. Harry Dietrichís creed.
My father and his father gave me some genes, dipped in the art and science of medicine. The cells my mother gave me were tinted with the skills and compassion of nursing. My wife was a most wondrous nurse. My father gave me the example of a life dedicated to medicine and intellectual honesty. My teachers? How thrilling now are the names I once so casually mouthed: Bobby Green, Folin, Cannon, Zinsser, Wolbach, Rosenau, Christian, [Blackvan], Cushing;
[Brenneman], and Little gave me of their knowledge, wisdom, and philosophy. They and many others gave that I might know. And before and after them, hundreds of other doctors gave me the tools of which to study disease and health: the stethoscope, ophthalmoscope, electrocardiograph, and microscope; the X-ray and electroencephalograph, and even the Geiger counter were given me for my considered use.
Always there have teachers to give me knowledge because others before them gave to find the truth about man and disease. And in our time, men and women of medicine have given me unbelievably effective means of preventing and curing most of our most-awful diseases. Many of the
fearsome names and fevers will soon be only in the textbooks on medical history. Dedicated workers have given me techniques of anesthesia, surgery, post-operative care that ensure safe operations on young and old. If the most imaginative doctor in 1900 had had Aladdin's Lamp, he could not in a year have thought of enough wishes to accomplish the wonders that medicine and its allied sciences have now given me.
And so I find as I encounter human ills that I do so not empty handed. By my predecessors and by my contemporaries, I have been given miracles of medical achievement. They have put into my head sound knowledge of body function. My hands can scarcely hold the tools of diagnosis and
treatment that they have given me. I am an earthy man who has been given almost godly powers. So many have given me so much. What can I give? How best shall I use those powers? To cure the sick? This I will most surely do. To learn? If find I can a fact unknown, it must be proved and then passed on, and so to teach as others have taught me. And yet I, who have been given so much, should be able to give still more.
Man needs his physician not just to rid his body of bacteria, replenish his vitamins, cunningly carve his disordered tissues, and effectively immunize him against disease, but to help him find peace of mind. Perturbed humans, confused by the medical dogma of previous generations, exposed
to the provocative advertising of a thousand nostrums, plagued with the sensibly silly dicta of foolish health cults, appalled by the appeals of money-seeking foundations, and frightened by pseudo-scientific articles in the lay press, desperately need and deserve good physicians. Perplexed man needs a physician who, grateful for the medical miracles that have been given him, uses them effectively and humbly. When by word and demeanor he allays unnecessary fear; by logic dispels erroneous belief; and by every act, word, and bit of human intercourse he reinforces man's belief in man, the physician's gift is peace of mind. Then he is a good, modern doctor. This I believe.
That was Dr. Harry F. Dietrich, a Los Angeles, California pediatrician whose beliefs speak well for the whole medical profession.