Heart of Dog – book club

What makes a man, a man? What makes a living being worthy of human rights?

Today we talk about “Heart of dog” by M. Bulgakov: a tale about science, progress and humanity.

Our trip begins following a stray dog looking for food in a glacial Moscow, finding help in a distinguished man who bribes it with food in order to take it home.

The dog can’t believe how lucky it is, now having a name, free food and a wonderful home.

But something sketchy is going on at the Doctor’s place and soon we discover his malefic intentions: thanks to his genius mind, he plans on turning the poor dog into a human being.

The most relevant thought which came to my mind, as I was reading this book, is how we underestimate the power we possess. As the world was covered by simple minded animals, human beings raised among them learning to exploit the environment in order to submit even the most aggressive creatures. But, as we were developing our knowledge, we became less and less aware of descending from the same creatures we were exploiting.

We forgot that we used to sleep in forests and hide on trees, and we stopped considering ourselves part of the animal kingdom. Our power made us able of eating others until we were able to build houses, cities and countries.

Inside this book, we see a man corrupted by his knowledge and caring only about his personal development as a scientist. He doesn’t care about his patients nor his colleagues, but is he a ‘good’ doctor?

He treated men and women who had lost hope, actually curing their conditions.

At the same time, the “recovery” of their bodies didn’t help their minds. He is trying to defeat age and death, but is it actually a good thing?

He says his experiment on the dog will lead a revolutionary medical discovery, but is it worth it? Do we really have the right to treat animals as we please?

The same questions could be asked about climate change and the environmental crisis, what should be do?

Let’s talk about it!

Benedetta Ronchi

PS: Next month’s book will be Illness by Havi Carel

Touching the Beautiful

I had the amazing opportunity to spend three months in Italy, where it is difficult to stay away from art.

The facades of the buildings are decorated with beautiful bas-reliefs, the heart of the unremarkable church looks like it keeps frescoes from the 9th century, and how breathtaking it is when you see the works of Caravaggio in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, a few turns and here you are standing in a stream of light that illuminates you through the perfect circle of the Pantheon ceiling. There is something divine about this light.

What do you experience when you find yourself in front of paintings that have lived through more than one century, which have called for the best spiritual qualities of so many generations, which are recognized by the world.

Now I am talking about the collection of the Vatican Museums. Works by Raphael and Michelangelo. “The Athens School” and the ceiling of the Sistina Chapel. Those works that I remember most of all.

How is it possible to create something so beautiful? As a physically weak and fragile person, able to give such a form to the idea, the inner plan, to impose layers of paint, to put the spirit into the image.

These paintings are known all over the world, but can touch the soul of each individual person.

Someone will see them as masterfully depicted people and appreciate the taste in the choice of color and light, someone will want to find a self-portrait of the artist, someone will just freeze in admiration and will not be able to say even a word.

Perhaps art should be like this.

Art, like everything else in this world, is developing. I don’t know if it’s possible to create something like this now.

But these works are for centuries. What was, is, and I hope it will be. And let people touch this category of beauty, let the light turn on in their souls, and they will leave a little bit differently.

As for me, I will definitely not be the same. Art is necessary for this world – as a mirror, as a healer, as a light.

Tatiana Vasilyevykh


Blood donations

A Jehovah’s Witnesses family come to visit their 14th years old son who has been 4 days in the hospital. He requires an urgent blood donation that will save his life, but his parents don’t allow it. What would you do?

If a colleague proposes to lie to the parents telling that there is an alternative treatment. This would consist in a photoreactive drug that can help him. But instead of giving him that medicine he hides the blood bag in an opaque recipient and finally makes the transfusions saving his life, would you allow it? Is it appropriate?

Now imagine that this is an emergency and you are in the ambulance. There is unconscious patient that accidentally you discover that is a Jehovah’s Witnesses. He has lost a lot of blood and maybe a blood transfusion could help to have a quicker recovery. Would you keep the secret? 

On which side will you be?

How to talk about ethical issues at workplace safely?

Ognen Poposky

Medicine and Art

Art and Medicine. Medicine and Art.  At first glance, they don’t seem to be good partners. They don’t seem to have  anything in common. But, trust me, they do. I’m sure you’re thinking that those serious doctors with white coats and aseptic clinics have nothing to do with Salvador Dali or Vincent Van Gogh.  Medicine, however, is a lot more than just scary hospitals and needles. Medicine is about sharing moments with a person in a vulnerable moment of their life. It’s about seating next to that person,  who has a name, a family, good and bad memories… and trying to help them. Medicine is about helping  others, not just by treating them, but also by accompanying them through pain, depression, uncertainty and death. These are moments and emotions  which are sometimes impossible to put into words, and this is  why a lot of artists have tried to capture these feelings through their work: it acted as a form of therapy. So Art can heal and Art can help Medicine  understand the patient’s feelings, and by doing so,  gain empathy.

Have I convinced you already that Medicine and Art are very good friends? Great! To illustrate this, on this first post,  I’d like to talk about how illness and pain have influenced the work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, who said: “My painting carries with it the message of pain.”

Frida was born in 1907 in Coyoacán, Mexico (in the famous “Casa Azul”). Did you know that she wanted to be a doctor? In 1922, she started studying natural sciences in the National Preparatory School with the desire of becoming a doctor someday. However, when she was 18 years old, she was heading to school and she  had a traffic accident that changed her life forever. She had multiple bone fractures, affecting her pelvis and spine. Her recovery was very long and painful and she had to spend months in bed. Her ideas of becoming a doctor went away. She  was in pain for the rest of her life (she had 30  surgeries throughout her lifetime in an attempt to correct the damage) and she became addicted to painkillers and alcohol. This is why  much of her work is related to suffering, loneliness and pain. In 1953, Frida’s right foot was affected by gangrene and doctors were forced to amputate her right leg below the knee. In her diary, Frida drew a sketch of her amputated leg and wrote: “Feet…what do I need them for if I have wings to fly.”

Frida died in the same place  where she was born, in the “Casa Azul”, on July 13th, 1954. She was only 47 years old. The cause of death was officially reported as “pulmonary embolism”.

Frida Kahlo is an example of how Art and Medicine can work together. In the paintings below, Frida expresses her pain through art as a form of therapy. As she said, “I am not sick…I am broken… but I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint…”.

Miranda Rico

Henry Ford Hospital (The Flying Bed) (1932)

The Broken Column (1944)

Without Hope (1945)

The Wounded Deer (1946)

Tree of Hope, Remain Strong (1946)

The beginning of the journey

SALVE everyone,                           

welcome to the first article of the newly created blog – Journal of a young Doctor. My name is Benedetta Ronchi and I am a medical student at Sapienza University, Rome. Alongside with my colleagues from all over the world, we are starting TODAY this new, wonderful adventure.

Our mission is to bring a little extra salt in the lives of everyone of our readers, interested in the medical area but not necessarily medical professionals.

We will talk about art, culture, news and more, connected to the world of Medicine. From this day forward, every week, we will publish one article that is part of one of four different columns:

-The Journal of a young Doctor : Book club

-The Med Humanitarian : News from the world

-Emotional Health in everyday life

-Medicine in Art and Cinema

-Mediethical Discussions

Without further ado, let’s start with the introduction of my personal column: The Journal of a young Doctor Book Club.

This project’s objective is to share opinion about books that we think can help us better understand our lives, both in work and every day routine. That’s why I chose to open the article with a famous Latin greeting (ed. Salve) which literally translates to “wish you well”.

My hope is for all you readers to keep in touch and read a book at the same time as I will. Every first day of the month, at the end of each article, I will tell you the next book I will be reviewing, so that we won’t miss each other!

Of course, all the readers who just want to enjoy the articles are welcome to do so and participate in the discussions anyway.

The first book will be “Heart of a Dog” by Mikhail Bulgakov, I chose it because it’s a short story, to give us an easy starting point. See you in two weeks (for this time only)!

Have a wonderful day,