Eugene A. Stead Jr. A life of chasing what I did not understand
My Story
The End of a Chapter
Postscripts from Stead's World
My Photos
Mostly My Thoughts
Thoughts from housestaff and friends
Thoughts from Others
For the Curious

From the housestaff - one side of the story ...

Title: Stead Stories: There Are So Many!

Contributor: David L. Smith

I do remember all the time I spent with Dr. Stead, as (like many) he was by far the biggest influence on my medical thinking and career.

Many of the people I rounded with during that time have gone on to have illustrious careers, including Ralph Synderman, Dave Martin, Harvey Cohen, Jay Ellis and Jeff Basson.

I was one of the first Robert Wood Johnson scholars and after I finished that and the senior assistant resident year, I was considering where to go. Dr. Stead at that time had a joint appointment in the Department of Family Practice at the University of Indiana. John Hickam and many of his old trainees had matriculated there. He talked with me about the opportunity and arranged an interview.

Title: Accurate Recording of Inaccurate Data

After hearing some obviously inaccurate piece of lab information, he said, "The accurate recording of inaccurate data is not a useful pastime."

Title: Inflammation of the Bellows

I also recall a very bright intern who decompensated when Dr. Stead asked him what the term pneumonia meant. His answer: "Inflammation of the bellows."

Title: What This Patient Needs

Another classic was after we had been working on a patient all night, doing every test we knew, our entire team groggy and not sure what was going on. Dr. Stead listened to us, then to the patient. After examining, he looked up and exclaimed, "What this patient needs is a good doctor!"

At that point the house staff was usually looking for a convenient window through which to dive.

Title: House Call

Dr. Stead was deep into his psychosocial mode when I was rounding with him. As you remember, a psychiatric resident or staff would usually accompany us on rounds. We had a patient who bounced on us several times and as a result we would construct increasingly complex regimens.

I remember Dr. Stead challenging the team to go out and visit the lady's home and them come back and reconsider the practicality of what we were attempting to do. The house staff complied. There was no refrigeration and no indoor plumbing.

When we returned, our regimen was greatly simplified.

Title: The World Belongs to Those Who Work a Little Harder

Dr. Stead once said to me, "When I went down to Emory as dean I met with the heads of what was then called 'the Colored' and 'the White' Grady. They said there was no room for me in either. Because of that, I just got up a little earlier and worked a little later every day and pretty soon I 'owned' Grady Hospital. The world belongs to those who work a little harder."

I have probably used this quote a million times and it has guided my life.

Title: Some Things I Remember About Dr. Stead

  • The intensity of his concentration
  • The depth and originality of his thinking
  • His ability to get to the heart of a problem by integrating multiple dimensions of each patient.
  • His never asking you a question that you would "know" the answer to. Each question required you to think and think hard. Many of his questions did not have definitive "answers" in any traditional sense. This many times frustrated more "concrete" house officers.
  • His sheer personal charisma.
  • His ability to express complex situations or feelings in short memorable phrases.
  • His aphorisms.

For me, he was plainly and simply what Internal Medicine was all about.

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