A community's loss

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It was with great sadness that I read the news of Dr. Bruce Dixon's death. I was fortunate to get to know Bruce over the last 33 years as my teacher, mentor and friend.

As I went to the funeral home to pay my respects, I was struck by the mementos that surrounded him. A picture of his most famous mentor, Dr. Jack Meyers, a legendary master clinician/educator; a painting of his beloved Schwab mansion, which he worked diligently to restore to its original luster; the sounds of his favorite music, a picture of some of his closest friends and lastly a myriad of teaching awards as well as other important plaques to honor his service to his community. His life of community service, Renaissance-like skill set and teaching surrounded him in such a simple but stark way. But that was Bruce -- simple but deeply committed to the essentials of caring for his community in any of his multiple roles.

Bruce was a legendary teacher and master clinician. I was fortunate enough to be the last chief resident at the University of Pittsburgh to participate in his biweekly "Bruce rounds." In those days, medical students, residents, nurses and chief residents would find a most challenging diagnostic dilemma and we would present the case to our master clinician. Bruce would listen intently, take us all to the bedside where he would gather a few clinical pearls, then he would begin to take us through his analytic thought processes and encyclopedic knowledge to solve the case. In my four years, I never saw Bruce miss a case. He taught us life-long essential principles of listening to the patient, examining the patient, applying some simple testing, developing a differential diagnosis and solving the problem with little technology.

The style of Bruce with his crew cut hair, wire-rimmed glasses, black pants, trademark tie, monogrammed "BWD" shirts and Hush Puppy shoes made him a legend in medical education for generations of medical students and clinicians who were influenced by him and who still practice today. Bruce was the most influential educator in my career. I know many of my colleagues will share my sentiments. We will miss Bruce -- our friend, teacher and mentor.

FRANCIS X. SOLANO JR., MD
McCandless
The writer is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, president of Community Medicine-UPMC and vice president of the UPMC physician services division.


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