Shine Your Light

It has been a couple of days since my second COVID-19 vaccine shot a couple of days ago. Consistent with what is known about the side effect profile of the second jab, I had one day of the well-described generalized aches and fatigue besides the sore arm, which didn’t limit my activities. It’s working.

I want to thank the University of Iowa Health Care Support Services Building (HSSB) personnel for a kind, well-organized approach to the vaccine administration process for so many people. This was a way for HSSB to shine a light. It was also an opportunity for many to shine their lights—protecting others as well as themselves.

Dr. Patricia Winokur, MD, Executive Dean and Infectious Diseases specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, deserves special mention for her superb educational video presentations on the COVID-19 vaccines. Now there’s a big light—more like a beacon.

Her father was George Winokur, MD, who was a very influential psychiatrist and a past chairman of the University of Iowa Department of Psychiatry. He had a great sense of humor and was fond of reminding trainees that we had a lot to learn. He came up with a set of 10 commandments for residents:

Winokur’s 10 Commandments

  1. Thou shalt not sleep with any UI Psychiatry Hospital patient unless it be thy spouse.
  2. Thou shalt not accept recompense for patient care in this center outside thy salary.
  3. Thou shalt be on time for conferences and meetings.
  4. Thou shalt act toward the staff attending with courtesy.
  5. Thou shalt write progress notes even if no progress has been made.
  6. Thou shalt be prompt and on time with thy letters, admissions and discharge notes.
  7. Thou shalt not moonlight without permission under threat of excommunication.
  8. Data is thy God. No graven images will be accepted in its place.
  9. Thou shalt speak thy mind.
  10. Thou shalt comport thyself with modesty, not omniscience.

I got a shout-out to the University on Match Day today. A special congratulations to the Psychiatry Department and the new incoming first year residents. I know they’re going to let their lights shine, especially if they commit Winokur’s 10 Commandments to memory.

I’m reminded of Dr. Joan Y. Reede, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, who delivered the Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Lecture in January. Her light glowed. By the way, she delivered the 2018 Harvard Deans Community Service Awards to medical students whose lights shone brightly.  

I also remember my former English Literature professor at Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, Texas ages ago, Dr. Jenny Lind Porter-Scott, who carried her lantern high. I have a copy of one of her books of poetry, The Lantern of Diogenes and Other Poems. The lead poem fits the theme today:

The Lantern of Diogenes

by Jenny Lind Porter

All maturation has a root in quest.

How long thy wick has burned, Diogenes!

I see thy lantern bobbing in unrest

When others sit with babes upon their knees

Unconscious of the twilight or the storm,

Along the streets of Athens, glimmering strange,

Thine eyes upon the one thing keeps thee warm

In all this world of tempest and of change.

Along the pavestones of Florentian town

I see the shadows cower at thy flare,

In Rome and Paris; in an Oxford gown,

Men’s laughter could not shake the anxious care

Which had preserved thy lantern. May it be

That something of thy spirit burns in me!

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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