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Welcome to The Medicine Mentors interview series. Our mission is to create a platform for top physician mentors to share key insights, traits and best practices based on their experiences to guide medical students and residents.

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Sep 8, 2021

Fred J. Schiffman, MD, is a Hematologist/Oncologist and the Associate Physician-in-Chief at The Miriam Hospital, the Medical Director of the Lifespan Cancer Institute, the Sigal Family Professor of Humanistic Medicine and the Vice-Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University. Dr. Schiffman is a graduate of NYU Medical School. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Hematology/Oncology from Yale New Haven Hospital. Dr. Schiffman has published extensively in hematologic malignancies and on a variety of subjects regarding the education of students and house staff. He has received numerous teaching awards, including the Charles C. J. Carpenter Award for excellence in the specialty of Internal Medicine, and the Human Dignity Award given by Home & Hospice Care of Rhode Island.

“At the end of the day, when you’re off the clock, go to the patient’s room. Ask about their day; answer their worries; reassure them of your support; give them your undivided attention; clear your mind of all distracting thoughts, and just be there for the patient.” Today we listen to Dr. Fred Schiffman share his journey, reflecting on our broader role as physicians in treating illness, not just disease. “Cure sometimes, relieve often, and comfort always” is one of Dr. Schiffman’s many mantras, encouraging us to allow our humanistic side to shine through as we care for our patients.

Pearls of Wisdom:

1. The secret to dealing with learners that have difficulty is to capitalize on their strengths, and to never criticize the person, only the incorrect method or behavior.
2. Be present with the patient. Give them your undivided attention. When you are off the clock at the end of the day, spend five minutes to ask about their day.
3. As our career progresses, we often forget the compassion and love that inspired us to enter the field of medicine. To reconnect with the warmth of those ideals, simply take five minutes to reflect on what you would want if you were on the other side of the stethoscope.