Respecting people’s choices

As a physician, I try to exhibit concern for all patients, regardless of whether they take the COVID vaccine.



August 30, 2021 - 8:08 AM

This summer I attended the celebration of life service for Dr. Rick Holm, the original Prairie Doc who founded this newspaper column, a radio show and a television show now entering its twentieth season. He died from pancreatic cancer in March of 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and thus there was no public service at the time.

Many friends and family gathered to celebrate Rick. We sat on lawn chairs, shared tales, and sang songs in a beautiful park on a gorgeous evening. We recalled stories of him being notoriously late, knocking over wine glasses with his large hand gestures, and mistakenly eating potpourri thinking it was trail mix. Themes emerged of Rick’s amazing ability to accomplish so much in a day, his skill for active listening, and his passion for finding the best in people. 

His children shared memories of their dad, including their family bedtime prayer “Help us to be kind and honest and respect people’s choices, and help us to be better people tomorrow.” Rick crafted that prayer from the Hippocratic Oath, the promise that doctors make when they complete their training and before they begin their careers. The oath emphasizes the medical ethics principles of beneficence (to do good), and nonmaleficence (to do no harm), and the importance of patient autonomy (to respect people’s choices). 

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