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View from the Other Side of the Stethoscope

Dr. Harpham blended high-tech medicine with old-fashioned caring in her solo practice of internal medicine, striving to understand patients’ struggles and to respond with compassion. But it was only in the setting of her own vulnerability, pain, loss and fear as a cancer patient that she could fully appreciate the breadth and depth of everyday difficulties endured by patients. She has been exploring and discussing healing doctor-patient relationships ever since.

In December 2005, Dr. Harpham was invited by Serena Stockwell, editor at Oncology Times, to write a column for professionals. Under the banner, “View from the Other Side of the Stethoscope,” Dr. Harpham’s writing received the 2007 Silver Medal from American Society of Healthcare Publications, category “Regular Column-contributed.” Over the years, the “View” column has developed a loyal following of readers.

Each column grapples with one common yet rarely-discussed patient dilemma, such as the problem of false alarms or the difficulty of finding hope in the setting of incurable disease. Dr. Harpham offers insight into the dynamics behind each problem and concludes with suggestions for her colleagues in oncology. She often offers examples of healing words and actions that may take clinicians only seconds to say or do yet can make a world of difference for patients.

While addressed to professionals, “View from the Other Side of the Stethoscope”articles have been circulating among patients. Survivors and their families appreciate the intimate view of the challenges and frustrations their doctors and nurses face. The stories and advice help non-medical readers reflect on their life as a patient. Most importantly, these essays open patients’ eyes to new opportunities for hope and healing.

In April 2009, ACP Press released a book based on Dr. Harpham’s“View” column: Only 10 Seconds to Care. Of the articles listed below, only "Secrets and Lies," "Square Pegs" and "Patent Pending" appear in the book. All the "View" columns can be accessed on the Oncology Times site at