"If You Love Rats"

An excerpt from an address by Stephen Bergman ’66, M.D. ’73

For more on Bergman's address, see "The Prodigal Doctor Returns."

For detailed reports on all the principal events of the week, including speech texts and audio and video recordings, please visit harvardmagazine.com/ commencement/2009.

Stephen Bergman ’66, M.D. ’73, writing as Samuel Shem, published a novel, The House of God, in 1978—a biting comedy about the lives of medical interns, among whom it remains immensely popular. It has not always been so kindly received within the medical hierarchy. So it was a surprise that Bergman, who spent decades on the Medical School faculty, teaching psychiatrists-in-training at McLean Hospital, was named the school’s Class Day speaker. This excerpt is from his introduction.

 

In rough economic times like these, perhaps we should offer a prayer of thanksgiving—how thankful we are that you are not graduating from business school. Healthcare is a glorious profession. It is so broad that each of you will find a job. If you love people and hate rats and molecules, you can be a clinician. If you love rats and molecules and are not so hot with people, a researcher. If neither, and you like travel to exotic places to help millions of people, public health or politics. And if, like me, you are a Jewish doctor who can’t stand the sight of blood, there’s always psychiatry.

You might also like

Talking About Tipping Points

Developing response capability for a climate emergency

Academia’s Absence from Homelessness

“The lack of dedicated research funding in this area is a major, major problem.”

The Enterprise Research Campus, Part Two

Tishman Speyer signals readiness to pursue approval for second phase of commercial development.  

Most popular

Claudine Gay in First Post-Presidency Appearance

At Morning Prayers, speaks of resilience and the unknown

The World’s Costliest Health Care

Administrative costs, greed, overutilization—can these drivers of U.S. medical costs be curbed?

The Gravity of Groups

Mina Cikara explores how people come into conflict, in politics and beyond

More to explore

Why do Groups Hate?

Mina Cikara explores how people come into conflict, in politics and beyond

Private Equity in Medicine and the Quality of Care

Hundreds of U.S. hospitals are owned by private equity firms—does monetizing medicine affect the quality of care?

Construction on Commercial Enterprise Research Campus in Allston

Construction on Harvard’s commercial enterprise research campus and new theater in Allston