FORUM: First Time Treating

Friends in graduate school, Head, Grauton, Rayton and I lived by Lake Michigan on Chicago’s north side. School was done and we were working—some of us part-time. Still single, we enjoyed hanging out together when our schedules allowed.

I was teaching part-time at University of Illinois, financially scraping by. I’d interviewed for a position as a research assistant (RA), but fortune smiled on me: I was offered and immediately accepted the position I’d dreamed of holding since I was a young boy—an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.

My dream came true. Finally, I was a professional academic specializing in theoretical, empirical, and simulation research. My appointment was in the Division of General Internal Medicine (GIM), in the Department of Medicine.

The position created for me was a “soft-money” appointment, meaning that I had to earn my salary via research funding. The only funding available for this position when I was hired was from the RA position that I interviewed for—which at that time offered slightly above average compensation for a graduate student.

In addition to pursuing self-directed scholarly activity, I had to do the work originally slated for the RA position. This entailed collecting data on many aspects of the GIM residency program and resident performance. To me this is interesting, familiar, simple, important work.  Because I was in charge of the data analysis, I would earn co-authorship in all publications about the project. Thus, I was enabled and encouraged to create a “research factory.” My second dream, come true.

The first time I was paid, I invited Head, Rayton and Grauton to dinner! We went to a restaurant in my neighborhood which only served three spectacular entrees—one meat, one fish, one vegetarian. The table bread, soup-of-the-day, and salad and house dressing were unmatched. The décor, ambiance and service were impeccable. We met two famous scientists whom we knew there that evening—a psychology professor and a mathematical statistician. It was a splendid time. Including a generous tip (most of my siblings worked as “servers”), the meal came to $200—a handy bundle in 1985, or even today! Tick-tack-toe, my third dream-come-true in a row!

It wasn’t finished…

Nobody ever outdid Head at anything virtuous, if Head had his way. I wasn’t thinking about this when I organized dinner—I myopically sought to share happiness with bros.

Head invited us to dinner a week later—at the finest German restaurant in Chicago. We enjoyed a royal meal. Head’s exclamation point however, was the unexpected “dessert” which came next.

Spotting a nearly empty crystal bottle on the top shelf of the liquor cabinet, Head asked the waitress what it was (I couldn’t understand her answer); how much was left in the bottle (four shots); and the price per shot ($50/shot).

Head said he would buy all four shots if he could keep the bottle. The bar master agreed. We toasted, drank, and toddled home.

The cost of the meal was $500. The experience was priceless.

When Head and I met up to watch a movie at his condominium the next weekend, I learned he sold the bottle to a Chicago museum for a cool $1,000.

The bottle was nearly 200-year-old German crystal. Classic Head

Cheers!

First Time Treating

Paul R. Yarnold, Ph.D.

January 20, 2021

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