As a physician, it is easy for me to see my patients through a set of spectacles that narrows my field of vision. The terse legend attached to each portrait represents this common medical provider’s point of view. But patients are more than heart attacks or valves that do not close; they are persons.
The purpose of the project was to help me “see” my patients more fully. Making their portraits was one way to do that. I went to the home or job site of each of these patients. As I made each photograph, not only did the "film" record what the lens refracted, but my mind recorded images as well: images of a person whose life is filled with much more than the health problems on which I focus in the office.
These images help me to see my patients as persons. When that happens, I become a better physician. I can more accurately interpret symptoms, more clearly explain medical issues and better tailor treatment. Also, I find that making these portraits trains me see more fully those patients in my office whom I have not photographed. In the end, this making of patient portraits helps me, and hopefully my patients, to grasp that all human beings are of equal worth, each with his or her own strengths and weaknesses.
Sixty-five of these images with text are on permanent display at Hershey Medical Center. Many of the images (without text) have been featured on the cover of Annals of Internal Medicine.