‘Experience begets wisdom, and wisdom informs change.’
“Patients are the best teachers,” he told a friend, shortly before moving west. The choice of a specialist career in community internal medicine came as a surprise to his colleagues. Leaving the big city hospital would mean less access to clinical resources, educational rounds, house staff and practice support. In short, less ‘stuff’. Academia might have offered more. But Dr Baillie moved to Mission, BC, not because he wanted less. He wanted to give rural Canadians more - the benefit of his extensive training - in their home town.
Most of his time in Mission BC was in solo practice, working as internist and intensivist. Given how much hands-on work he had to do, he says “it was like an extended fellowship.” He saw the full spectrum of acute hospital medicine, on the ward, in the ER, and in the ICU. On-call was heavy - he figures he learned 30 years of medicine in 15. When the hospital downsized dramatically in 2002, he moved to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. Casebook of a Community Internist reviews interesting and notable cases that came his way over decades. It combines the storytelling of a memoir with his reflections on personal experience. Medical students, residents, and fellows-in-training will enjoy these vignettes, not only for their content, but because they celebrate the Joy of Medical Practice. The public will appreciate the accessible and humorous overview of health and disease, through a practitioner’s eyes. As Osler said (in 1901):
‘To study the phenomenon of disease without books is to sail an uncharted sea, while to study books without patients is not to go to sea at all.’