Oct 30

Reading Reflection Ten: Dokte Paul

By Tuesday at 1:30…..Paul Farmer finds ways of connecting with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own. How does he do this? Are his methods something to which we can all aspire?


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  1. Alejandro Barraza

    Paul Farmer is able to connect with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own because he creates unique relationships with his patients and does not let the demographic differences affect him. For example, Farmer is able to connect with Joe, an HIV positive male and cocaine user, by becoming Joe’s friend first and then his doctor. When Farmer enters Joe’s room, he immediately sits on Joe’s bed and begins to have small talk with Joe. Their conversation eventually leads to Joe talking about his cocaine use. Instead of telling Joe to stop using drugs, Farmer tells Joe to start using marijuana instead. This suggestion illustrates Farmer’s level of understanding, he understands that drug use is harmful, but from experience he knows that Joe will be using so it would be less harmful if he were smoking marijuana. So, Farmer destroys the demographics differences between him and Joe by exposing actions that illustrate his caring nature, and by being both understanding and realistic about the situation.

    Another characteristic that allows Farmer to connect with people of different backgrounds is that he treats all problems. For the majority, Farmer’s consultations with the people of Haiti result with the proper treatment for their illnesses and help with any other problems. These other problems are best illustrated by a couple of Farmer’s patients. One of Farmer’s patients, is referred to as Ray Charles, was blind and wanted glasses. When Farmer noticed that he wanted glasses, Farmer brought him glasses. With these glasses Ray Charles gained both confidence and happiness. Another patient Ti Ofa was living in cramped spaces and felt isolated and depressed because the people of town would not get near him due to his sickness. Farmer sees this and gives Ti Ofa medicine to help with his pain, and then tells Ti Ofa, “I don’t want you to be discouraged.” This kindness and empathy led to Ti Ofa feeling of tranquility, which is illustrated by him saying that he is going to be able to “sleep well tonight.”

    The last characteristic that allows Farmer to connect with both patients and people is that he is willing to do anything for the Haitians. This characteristic is illustrated when Farmer journeys through mountains to Morne Michel to make sure one of his patients is taking his medicine. Farmer’s will and determination is both amazing and beautiful. However, when the people of these towns see Farmer’s will and determination they could only classify it as witchcraft or call Farmer a god.

    We should all aspire to Farmer’s methods of connecting with people because we should be using these methods with people today. We should disregard backgrounds when we meet people, and when these barriers fall we will be able to empathize and understand the other person better. If we have the ability to help somebody with their problems, we should help them and not look the other way. Farmer did not have to get Ray Charles a pair of glasses but Farmer did because understands that when you have the ability to help, you should use that ability. And we should all want to go through “mountains beyond mountains” to help people or be nice. Helping always involves effort, and should not be interpreted as a chore.

  2. Dillon Gamboa

    Farmer is a charismatic type of person, he is personable in the sense that he can connect with everyone and anyone regardless of their age or background. He has the drive to connect with as many people as he can, but in addition he does this because he has the will to make a difference in not only a few people’s lives but everyones.

    When he meets with a patient, he doesn’t put himself on a pedestal while the patient is seen a lower figure, he tries to get to their level and tries to make them feel at ease. He fines small quirks that get them to start enjoying life, or even start a better life. Regardless if they are small jokes playing on drugs or beer, or even calling complete strangers “mother” or “father.” He finds small ways to interact with all of his patients but create a bond that makes it seems like they are family because he does nothing, but look out for every patient he treats.

    We should all be aspiring to be a little like Farmer, sure not all of us can go to the extent that he did. However, we can do what we can. I think it is important for us to look into volunteering to take care of others, it is more like a civil duty to do so. Not that a lot of us don’t already do it, but do we always treat people the same way? Not always. I think we all need to learn how to go the extra mile to learn more from a different perspective and not put ourselves to a different level and make us seem more worthy than someone else. We are essentially all on the same level.

  3. Christine Thrasher

    Paul Farmer is a unique and admirable person, because of his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. He is only 35, graduated from Harvard Medical School, and has a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Clearly, he is an extremely intelligent and talented man. What makes him unique is his eagerness to use his talents among people the least likely to be able to repay him. Instead of leveraging his expertise for money and fame, Dr. Farmer works among the poor and needy, in places as diverse as Boston and Haiti. Part of his success working in areas like this involves his ability to treat everyone equally, regardless of whether they are a drug addict, a poor person, or anyone else. He tries to tap into the cultural context in which he is living and understand the people from the inside, instead of from the outside. This enables him to understand their problems and help provide solutions much better than people who try to analyze the situation from a removed point of view. We can learn from his methods by trying to immerse ourselves in the communities we want to improve. Instead of simply working from afar, we must involve ourselves deeply and we will be better able to provide solutions.

  4. Jessica Yen

    In the beginning of the novel, it is clear that Dr. Farmer is a very empathetic and compassion man. Farmer expresses early on that he has concerns that the American government’s plans for fixing Haiti are only utilized to aid business interests, but do nothing to fix the suffering of the poor. He makes it clear that he will do everything in power to help the disadvantaged and even goes as far as to anger Captain Carroll with his humanitarian thoughts. Also, he works as a doctor without pay in Haiti, helping peasants who had lost their land to the hydroelectric dam. This demonstrates that Farmer is a selfless man and is willing dedicate his life to the poor people of Haiti.
    Paul Farmer finds ways of connecting with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own. He illustrates understanding to his patients, genuine concern, and dedication. For instance, when Farmer deals with Joe, the drug addict who doesn’t take medication, Farmer appeals to Joe in a vastly different approach than most traditional doctors. Farmer physically comforts Joe to show how much he cares and Joe reciprocates by sharing with him his inner thoughts. Farmer listens to the man and promises to fulfill his wish.
    Another way Farmer finds ways of connecting with people is through his dedication and loyalty. When Morne Michel did not show up for his monthly appointment, Farmer decides to travel three difficult hours to the country side to find Michel. This type of work from Farmer shows how much he really worries about his patients and that he will do everything in his power to help.
    Farmer’s method is something most of us should learn to do. For instance, many of us have the mentality that the poor are stuck in their circumstances because of the lack of hard work or low education. We do not share the same sympathy Farmer does and so we assume that everyone gets what they deserve. If all of us reached out a little to better our community or to aid those who are involved in unfortunate circumstances, then the quality of everyone’s life will improve and our society will thrive more lively.

    1. Diana Garcia

      Aside from having unconventional methods to treat patients, Farmer is also very understanding of his fellow colleagues. On a ordinary day Farmer deals with numerous cases, some more puzzling than others but yet he stops at various places around the hospital to help other physicians by doing simple office duties. Farmer is a Harvard Medical School graduate with a PhD in Anthropology, most people in his position would not even bother talking to people below him. However, this is not the case with Farmer because he treats everyone in a personal matter, he is a true humanitarian.

      I think it is really important that he interacts with other physicians they way he does because he is promoting his humanitarianism. If other doctors felt this strongly about making a change this world would be a much better place. Farmer goes to different countries to help cure people without pay because that is what he loves. Many lives could be saved if people went overseas with a helping hand.

      We should all aspire to be like Dr. Farmer and treat everyone with respect no matter what age, sex, religion, economic background because we only have one race and that is the human race. I know many of us want to change the world but you have to take small steps that will lead to a ripple effect. We cannot change overnight but every act counts and maybe something you do for someone else can be life changing for them.

  5. Stephen Mendez

    Paul Farmer combines his ivy league Harvard education along with a knack for common sense logic to provide his patients with treatments that world effectively to solve, if not work with you to achieve results. He uses rational thought and his intensive higher education to address complex social and personal problems within the communities he visits. As previously mentioned by my colleagues, his relationship with the drug abuser embodies his interpersonal skills. Instead of imposing strict unreasonable solutions he reasons with his patient and finds a common ground solution of taking up marijuana instead of cocaine. This may not be seen as the correct solution by many but when considering the alternatives the lesser evil is likely to be the better option.
    Farmer’s strengths lie in his ability to remain indifferent to cultural and economic lines, to him everyone is a part of the same group: humankind. His compassion towards humanity allows him to treat everyone with the care and respect they deserve. He is willing to go to the end of the Earth for his patients and he is willing to treat any of them despite any of their conditions and/or situations.
    His tactic is one we all should look up to. If we all had the views that Farmer held, the world would be a better place by a one-million fold increase. He refuses to take the commonly taught ideology that you get an education to make money and get ahead of everyone else. Instead, Farmer uses his education to genuinely make the world a better place. He is a character I can look up to.

  6. Kellie St. Pierre

    Every heard of the saying, “assume makes an ass out of you and me?” This is exactly why Paul Farmer can find ways of connecting with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own. He doesn’t assume anything when confronting people/patients, and can build a trust with each patient. This kind of unbiased and openness to others leads to Farmer’s empathy and compassion for people in general. Farmer is so compassionate towards others, nothing stops him from aiding the poor. Even as his patients worship him and bring him presents, he confirms that it is not this glory that keeps him going, yet the mere fact that there is a patient out there that needs help, and he is doing his very best to help. This reminded me of Professor Zarate last week and how she was talking about how teachers should be teachers first and foremost because they absolutely love what they do. The more they love helping students, benefiting students, the better they will be as teachers. Same for Paul Farmer, he is so good at what he does because he honestly loves helping people.

    1. David Moghissi

      I agree, Kellie. I think Farmer’s actions are even more impressive given the fact that he came from an ivy-league background and could have pursued a very successful career in private practice. He turned all of that down, though, and chose to help those less fortunate.

      I also like your point on Farmer’s perspective. You’re right, he doesnt operate on assumptions. He dives head-first into every situation and considers every course of action before he makes decisions.

  7. Nicole Fulbright

    First off, Paul Farmer is definitely someone that we can all learn from and aspire to be more like in our everyday lives. The way he goes about making connections with the people around him is a huge part of what makes him so inspiring. Farmer is someone who comes from a highly educated background and could easily make a living in the United States with some high paying job. However, he takes the route less taken and uses his knowledge and talents to venture out into the world in attempt to make it a better place. Farmer is able to do this mainly because of his open-mindedness to people of other cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, etc. He is a people person. Someone who feeds off the energy of others and just genuinely seems to love being around other people. This love of humanity is, in my opinion, what drives him to do what he does in third world countries. I think that we should all wish to be a bit more like Farmer. Although not all of us may come from an Ivy League university or be doctors or have the opportunity, I know that if everyone took their own unique talents and interests and put them to work in the world outside of our own, the world would be so much better. And this could happen on a small scale or something much greater, like how Farmer has done in Haiti. Whatever method we choose to take, however, selflessness is the most important quality to have, as we are being shown by Paul Farmer.

  8. Rachel Berman

    Paul Farmer has been able to act completely selfless and does not see boundaries most people might feel with the diseased or poor. This story reminds me of Father Damon who was a priest who helped the leper colony on Molokai in Hawaii. Like Paul Farmer Father Damon was extremely personal with all his patients and did not wear the protective covering that they were supposed to wear around the lepers. He felt that this protective covering did not feel human and did not want the lepers to think of themselves as contaminated or sick. He was able to help many because of his kindness and eventually died of leprosy, which he contracted during his time on Molokai, demonstrating the furthest kind of selflessness. I see this same quality in Paul Farmer. When Kiddler witnesses Paul Farmer with Joe, this is the sort of personal connection that make Paul Farmer and Father Damon such exceptional caregivers. Whether or not we should aspire to this is a difficult question. I don’t think everyone is cut out for this kind of work. It definitely takes a person who whole-heartedly feels passionate for their work. I have a deep admiration for those who can give of themselves completely to giving aid to others and are so committed that they will bend rules to make a difference, however, I do not think I could be one of these people. I will do my best in my much smaller efforts to be of service.

  9. Justyne Catacutan

    Farmer is a modest and humble person who has a deep concern for people. He offers more than most can offer, meaning his time and his dedication. As people may seem him as a “saint,” he views himself as someone that is open for improvement or more work. He doesn’t take time for himself. This is what makes his relationships close. In his novel, he relates his connection with his patients as themes and problems within the world. His claim is that his life is his commitment to help others. To fully witness it, one must see his relationships forming in person, rather than just read a book. He is able to help and find these relationships with patients because he is on the eager hunt to help as many people as possible. It is difficult for him to think that the less fortunate people in the world are living in a world where there are not always people to help. It is inspiring to see someone offer their time and concern for the sake to make the world heal. Farmer does anything he can to help the most less fortunate. Whenever they are need, he tries to be there and aid, whether it is helping the Haitian lady heal her hand or finding a man a pair of glasses. He treats all people with respect and hope for them to have a better life.

  10. Natasha Zubair

    Paul Farmer is able to connect with people that lead lives very different from his own by being a selfless and passionate person. Despite being a Harvard graduate, he worked without pay in Haiti and was known as a “poor people’s doctor.” He never failed to go above and beyond the call of duty when it came to providing aide to those who could not manage on their own. In fact, Farmer always put the concerns and needs of others before his own because helping the community was his number one passion. Examples of his good deeds include: when he spent his Christmas visiting patients, and when he donated his entire grant money $220,000 to Partners in Health. Farmer also had the ability to connect with people one-on-one without judging them or their backgrounds. When one of his patients, Joe, was sick, no one would go near him but Farmer. Farmer even went so far as to sit with him in his bed and put his hand on Joe’s head. He created lists of things to buy for his patients if ever they needed something like sunglasses or a wristwatch or nail clippers.

    Paul Farmer’s characteristics of being so humble, hardworking, and caring make him a respectable figure that we should all live up to. Although it is very difficult to be as generous and understanding as Farmer, we all can definitely try to do more and more selfless and good deeds with each passing day. If we start off by doing a little consistently, we can make a big difference collectively.

  11. Leslie Mendoza

    “Education wasn’t what he wanted to perform on the world…he was after transformation.”

    I think this is an accurate characterization by the narrator of the novel of Doctor Farmer. He goes against the norm of what most would do, where having had obtained a Harvard degree would usually the graduate earn more money because of his title and expertise. However, Farmer doesn’t choose this path. He chooses the path to side with the “common” man, but in this case, not “common” in American standards but rather to the poorest and lowest level- Haiti. Individuals affected with diseases, he doesn’t treat them as just “patients” as my classmate mentioned but he treats them as people. He considers their feelings of what it is to be human : love, family, loneliness, surprise and fear. Even buying gifts for them during Christmas time, just to see them happy and providing medicine for them. He was, as one woman called him, “the hardest working broke man.”

    I think, it is amazing and truly truly admirable in his method of striving to always be there, for his Haitian patients- both for emotional and doctor support. Also, how he constantly thinking of methods towards improvement. When one treatment didn’t work (like when a lady died from tuberculosis), he sought a solution so it won’t happen again. He worked so hard that people even sometimes called him a “saint,” but when he was called that, he pushed himself even more. He upped his standard.

    But at the same time, I think, it’s kinda sad.
    Yes, being passionate about the job and especially helping other people is a great thing, but what about his family? One might argue that there is a “greater” cause in comparison, where it will help a majority of people, but at the same time, it might still feel horribly lonely for the daughter and his wife living in Paris without seeing Farmer (or rarely). This is where I do not know and I get confused. It’s an amazing cause, but to what effect if it would impact the ones we personally care about ? We can hope that they will understand, our drive and desire to help others, but even so, how much would their pain be?

    In an ideal common way, we’ll find a balance between our family and regular jobs but what about Farmer? He cannot. He has to choose one or the other. What will it be for our own careers? I am unsure.

    1. Leslie Mendoza

      After re-reading my message, I hope to make it clearer- I think Farmer’s character should be something we should aspire, but we should find a balance. But how will we do so? I am unsure.

      (that’s what I was trying to get across)

  12. Elim Loi

    Farmer finds ways to connect with all kinds of people, even very different from himself. His education and background are prestigious, which make him very respectable. This, along with his humble and personable personality, allow him to appeal to everyone and reveal his well-rounded character. Because he is selfless and helpful, others can appreciate him greatly for choosing to do what he does in the places he chooses and for those underprivileged people. Going to different places of completely different cultures and people can be difficult and uncomfortable for people, but Farmer is able to relate and meet others on their level and to their needs. This takes maturity, understanding, and compassion to be able to successfully relate to all people in different places from different backgrounds. We should all aspire to his methods so that we can expand the variety of people whom we connect with and can affect. it is only beneficial to everyone to be able to connect more genuinely and eliminate barriers of differences or arrogance we might feel we have between people.

  13. Andre Navarro

    Dr. Farmer seemed to get down on his patient’s level and understand where they were coming from. He gave them his genuine attention and in the case of the patient Joe, even brought him the 6 pack of beer for a Christmas present. A lot of people tend to view doctors as someone completely unrelated to themselves, especially people from completely different backgrounds. It is very hard to trust someone whom you may not feel knows you or can relate to you. For this reason; it is extremely important to make sure that the doctor (or any one) makes it clear that they are passing no personal judgments, and lets them know that they are just at human as their patient is. I think his methods are something we can all aspire too.
    It’s very important to show people you are still human, especially when you are working with the public (which for the most part can be particularly diverse). When you establish a common ground with a person they are more inclined to work with you. For example if you happen to be dressed in some clothes that could be taken as gang affiliated wear, and you ask for directions from a 80 year old lady driving a brand new Cadillac, the lady probably wouldn’t be as excited to help you out if you had been wearing clothes that represented your college. Assuming that the 80 year old woman is more familiar with the life style of college students, than the life style of gang members.

  14. Nirav Bhardwaj

    The beauty of how Paul Farmer is able to connect with people from backgrounds vastly different from is own stems from Farmer’s ability to look at an individual as someone who he can be friends with rather than someone who is just a patient coming in for work to be done. Paul never makes himself seem as if he is higher than anyone just because of his education or profession. He is just a personable guy who is very positive and always out to find the best of every individual. Most importantly, Paul never makes quick judgments or assumptions about people and instead he does his due diligence to get to know each of the individuals who come in as a patient.

    While this makes it seem as if Paul is someone who holds some amazing talent, it isn’t just like that. At the heart of it, Paul is merely an individual with a passion – a passion to help others. The most important thing to takeaway from reading about Paul Farmer is that he is a non judgmental and very positive type of guy. If we all could take just ten percent of that and instill it upon our lives everyday, the world would be a much better place to live in.

    1. Natalie Chau

      I think a great example that illustrates Paul Farmer’s ability to connect to his patients with a different background from his is when he was meeting with the patient who had AIDs, Joe. Before he actually goes to see Joe, Farmer is running around doing errands and talking to everyone else that works with him. This shows that Farmer is a very sociable and friendly person; he does not act like he is higher than any of them in status. Once he goes to take a look at Joe, he does not observe him like a usual doctor examining a patient, rather he talks to Joe like he is a regular guy. When Farmer is talking to Joe, he is sitting on the edge of the mattress and he talks to Joe like he is a friend. I think it’s great that Paul Farmer does not treat any of his patients as actual patients but more like friends. It allows the patients to open up to him and talk to him more easily as well as listen to Farmer’s suggestions. Farmer tells Joe to stop using cocaine and start smoking marijuana and he basically compromises Joe to drink less, instead of drinking half a gallon of vodka a day, Joe is planning to only drink six cans of beer or a glass of wine before dinner. Farmer looks at situations realistically and he knows that a person cannot quit altogether that quickly so instead he suggests a better solution, a better lifestyle. Even though, Joe will still be doing drugs and drinking, he will now be living a safer life; he is going to drink less and doing drugs that are less harmful.
      I think that Paul Farmer’s methods are something everyone should aspire to because he is a great doctor without really acting like a doctor in that he does not act full and mighty while still seeing to and treating his patients. He connects easily with his patients and is able to find out a lot of information about them while being their friend. Farmer also cares deeply for his patients and does everything he can to make sure that they are well and taking their medication as instructed even if it means a long and tiring ride for him. If i was to become a doctor, I would like to be like him.

  15. Brenson M Yu

    From the looks of it Dr. Farmer is the type of person to look into matters with an approach which is deep in the sense he knows of many ways, and is constantly in hunt of the personal. His deep approach is his sensibility comparable to Patch Adams. His unorthodox style of delivering his humanitarian care to people comes from the relationships he builds. In many ways Dr. Farmer has a knack in establishing trust among strangers. I believe what drives Dr. Farmer is not conviction that he is a highly trained health professional. I think Dr. Farmer is one of those people who is naturally good at what he does, and thats just it, he was meant to be there. The character he is, is like a snowball once in motion, it gains momentum, and cant be stopped.
    In trainsition, Dr. Farmer does more justice for the power of degree he has earned through his elaborate education. He is a moral example, that education and degree power is exhibited with more worth and usefulness when put into practice. His presence has helped Haiti and more than anything he is an international symbol of dedication and understanding.
    Its interesting Dr. Farmer could have targeted a high paying field in his profession, but instead he chose to be around filth and squalor. His life story is one in which he is in the groove of being helpful and having great public relations.

  16. Alexis Utanes

    Whether it is in a domestic or global setting, Paul Farmer believes that co-curricular and course-based service-learning experiences should be in conjunction with community development work. Though service-learning educators are well-versed on the literature on community partnership building, it is in applying such methods by engagement in community-based programs that makes his methods efficient. Farmer hypothesizes that participating in well-designed co-curricular and course-based service-learning projects may empower both the community members and students involved by developing a relationship in which both sides benefit. The observations and interviews of the general public and their community leaders and NGO staff performed by Farmed during such international service-learning trips have demonstrated such mutual benefit. For instance, Paul Farmer’s research from international service-learning projects in El Salvador and Nicaragua have shown that increased participation in a community generates better learning outcomes for students.

    Farmer’s methods are definitely relevant in optimizing the benefits of the international service-learning experience. His method draws upon models which include stages “of psychological disruption, gradual adjustment and adaptation over time, questioning oneself and one’s own culture, and resultant attitude and behavior changes.” Basically, it is necessary for an individual to immerse themselves in the culture of the foreign community in which they are studying and experience the initial “culture shock” in order to adjust to another culture and connect with people from diverse backgrounds.

    I know for myself, volunteering at an Indian Reservation last year for the first time was a huge culture shock. I did not understand how a community just a few hours away, in the same State and in America, could be so different from the rest of us who live in big cities. After a week, I was able to understand the people more—their rich but tragic histories, the disparities in health care and federal support, and their importance of cultural preservation. Only when I was engaged in the community, I was able to connect with the issues that affect the residents. This made me want to work harder while performing service learning in their Community because I genuinely wanted to help.

  17. Hyun Joo Lee

    One of the ways Farmer seems to connect with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own is by listening. There’s a section in the reading where Farmer and the other young doctors discuss whether or not a patient who had recently been treated for a parasite in the brain, should be treated for further infection, although there had not been any evidence of infection yet. Rather than authorizing the decision himself, he asks his team to share their thoughts and opinions on the matter. Then, he listens. The reading quotes, “Farmer mostly just listened, though it was clear he was in charge” (10). Through listening, he was probably given the opportunity to empathize from another person’s point of view. By listening, he was also probably able to develop and maintain deeper relationships with others because people will generally feel appreciated when they feel they are heard. Furthermore, by portraying himself as someone willing to listen, others around him probably found him as an effective leader who they can have a genuine liking towards. Additionally, listening allowed him to be flexible in his thoughts because he would come to understand that the way people process information and arrive at conclusions are different from his own. Often times, people are either stubbornly firm in their beliefs or simply too busy explaining their own opinions that they forget to listen. While not all, I also think that people of power, authority, and leadership tend to assert their opinions too forward without hearing others out. Many of us also make the common mistake of assuming the intentions and/or thoughts of others based on preconceived notions or the first part of the conversation, that while we hear what they are saying, we really don’t take part in true listening. But, it seems that Farmer was different. From the context of his interaction with his teammates, I could feel that Farmer was able to connect well with others, despite differences, because he knows how to listen (which I think is different from just hearing) and knows how to put himself in the shoes of another person to see in their perspective.

    Farmer’s great listening skills are also revealed in the way he interacts with his patients, such as Joe. Farmer does not seem to portray himself as a doctor who acts like he knows more than the patient, has more authority and power, but rather, Farmer presents himself to his patient as a friend who genuinely cares about the patient’s health. Alejandro (classmate) mentioned in his reflection that Farmer connects with Joe by becoming their friend first and acts realistically about the situation. I agree with that. It seems that Farmer understands that drug-using patients are not simply going to stop drug usage right away because the doctor advises you not to use drugs. It takes time, and it is a gradual process that’s going to be treated with patience. Because he understands this, he uses a different approach of suggesting marijuana over cocaine, which is probably a method that is not commonly, if at all, used by doctors.

    His methods of listening are definitely something we should aspire for because it is so important in almost anything we do, whether it is in a career, friendship, family, marriage, and community service. I think that every time we take time to listen to someone else, we learn to understand that we are not living in a world where everyone thinks like “me” and agrees with “me.” Because this helps us grow in becoming more open-minded people, we can become better at connecting with people who come from different backgrounds and have different experiences.

  18. George Goodman

    Paul Farmer connects with people by ignoring his doctor status when having one on one interaction with patients. He transforms himself into the patient’s friend and treats them as if they have known each other for a long time causing the patients to feel comfortable. He is open minded and never puts boundaries on a situation. An example is most doctors would rule out Ti Ofa, who has a bad stage of HIV. But Farmer doesn’t think that way and fights along with him until the end. You can also see that he is open minded through his immersion into the Haitian culture. He lives as the Haitians do and spends most of the year there in order to understand the background of his patients. Paul’s methods are truly inspiring, and I think we can all practice a basic version at our service learning sites. I think there is a temptation to assume we know what is right when we help these kids or lower income individuals, as I’m sure Paul has been tempted to do with all his medical knowledge. But, we need to have an open mind, listen, and then do our best to help.

  19. Jennifer Lazaro

    Farmer is according to his accountant, the hardest working broke doctor he knows. Farmer’s dedication comes with a sacrifice, a sacrifice that he is willing to make just so he can help Haiti. Farmer’s personality, personal/moral strength and dedication allow him to go that extra mile and connect with his patients. He loves his work; therefore he dedicates a lot of attention to his patients. Not only that, but not that many people are able to connect to their patients as he does. He teaches his Harvard students that in order to be a good clinician, you have to never let patients know about personal problems and that you’re in a hurry. He makes sure that it does not seem like there are barrier between doctor and patient. He does not make them feel like they are just a patient, a number in his system. He knows their name, even some personal facts about their life. Working in Haiti, surrounded by so much poverty is already hard, but Farmer dedicates most of his life to working in the clinic and helping those in needs.

    Farmer’s charismatic personality allows him to connect with his patients; it allows him to build a personal connection and his patients notice that. Not that many doctors get a patient that wants to take a picture with him for curing them from TB. Not only that, but Farmer also loves working in Haiti, he believes that we would not be happy working the medical field in the US knowing that there is so much poverty in 3rd world places, that is why he doesn’t complain. Farmer has this optimistic view, always looking for good thing within all the people that he sees. That is why he has the list.

    Farmer’s dedication is something to aspire to. But not everyone can be a Farmer. It takes a lot of sacrifice to be someone like him and also dedication and commitment. His work however teaches us that we should value what we have, not take our medicine in vain because there are other places that are suffering more than us. It also teaches us community involvement, Farmer reminds me of all those doctors part of the Doctors without Boundaries program

  20. Anthony La

    Dr. Farmer is the paragon of not only doctors, but of every profession as he exhibits traits that every individual should aspire to have. Having graduated from Harvard Medical school and having a Ph.D has not prevented him from remaining humble, compassionate but most of all empathetic to his patients, or should i say family. He manifests his knowledge in higher education into service to help others. From helping his Haitian patients, giving money to Partners in Health or spending Christmas with his patients.
    He could have easily used his degrees to accumulate large amounts of monetary wealth. But giving five dollars is much more gratifying than making getting five dollars, trust me, its true. Dr. Farmer has taken this approach and has given everything he has to others and interacting with his patients on a personal level rather than in a condescending manner is evident of this sincere care.
    It is true that Dr. Farmer exhibits what everyone should strive to promote. But there is a caveat in giving your all to others. As Leslie mentioned earlier in her post, Dr. Farmer as seemingly no time for his own family. Everyone i believe strives to be like Farmer, or at least to a certain degree, but one should beware of the risk of losing one owns family. But i’m sure Farmer would argue that all his patients have become his family.

  21. David Moghissi

    Paul farmer stands as an example to everyone who serves in his field. He’s able to connect with and treat anyone, regardless of their background or beliefs. One attribute that facilitates Farmer’s effectiveness is his perspective. I believe that before he speaks to a patient he thinks carefully on many levels; he considers, for example, what’s best for the individual, what’s best for the community, what this person has gone through, and what this person can probably go through in the future. He does not fall into an elitist line of thinking even though he comes from an ivy-league background. One of the most interesting examples of this occurs when Farmer carefully considers a cocaine addict’s situation and advises him, not to detox or drop drops all together, but to switch to a less damaging drug like marijuana. That recommendation shocked me at first because, generally, people approach a problem like this from a zero-sum perspective; either you’re doing something good and you should keep doing it, or you’re doing something bad and you should stop immediately. Farmer opts, instead, to see a middle ground. He understands that this addicted individual probably cannot rid drugs from his life. He also sees that cocaine use is both harder on the community and on the person dependent on it. So, as a result, Farmer advises the addicted man – in a way that one would expect an older brother to do so – to downgrade to a less harmful drug. At the end of the day, the Farmer’s unique recommendations come from his expansive thought-processes and ability to empathize. I would say that compassion is the emotion that is chiefly responsible for Farmer’s actions. Honestly, I feel like we could all learn something from Paul Farmer. In today’s world, individuals and communities are often divided for one reason or another. At some level, we can all aspire to be more thoughtful and compassionate individuals. Like Farmer, we shouldn’t act based on pre-conceived notions and we shouldn’t judge until we’ve thought about what it’s like to be in another’s shoes.

  22. Amy Sage

    By Tuesday at 1:30…..Paul Farmer finds ways of connecting with people whose backgrounds are vastly different from his own. How does he do this? Are his methods something to which we can all aspire?

    I sincerely appreciate individuals like Paul Farmer. Where I am from, people who aren’t Navajo sometimes have a hard time fitting into our community, and a lot of these individuals happen to be physicians at our Indian Health Service hospitals. I believe this is because a lot of them come with an outsiders perspective of what it’s like, but they don’t try to immerse themselves in the population and/or the culture. Things like this are key to understanding a population or group of individuals who come from different backgrounds than yourself. Paul Farmer is an extremely respectful individual that acknowledges and respects the people of Haiti’s culture, and has developed a thorough technique for interacting with people from different backgrounds than his own.

    Since I have moved from my homeland, I have always been around individuals who come from backgrounds that appear to be drastically different than my own. I believe that you have to speak to individuals, show interest in who they are and where they come from in a respectful manner. You can ultimately develop a good relationship with them. Often, you find more similarities than you think, and this gives grounds for a closer relationship. People just want to be respected and understood. Show interest in who they are and you can form key interactions that have the potential to lead to relationships. This is what I think Paul Farmer has done.

  23. Ai-Thuan Nguyen

    Dr. Farmer has the dedication and conviction to help people in need like no other. His approach to his patients are different from what most doctors do. He approaches them with care and tries to create a personal relationship with them. He reassures them by making sure he is there to help, not just there to make money. Most doctors can be rude and condescending but not Dr. Farmer. He treats his patients with respect and does not judge them based on their outer appearance like most people. Even though he is a doctor, his money goes to helping others help themselves, so he is not financial well off. The one thing he has that most people do not is that he has found his purpose in life. He found his calling and he putting his heart and soul into helping others.
    His methods are really admirable but it is hard to be as dedicated as him. I know a lot of doctors that want to help those in need but are not willing to go as far as Dr.Farmer did. Dr.Farmer basically gave his life to helping others, while neglecting his own personal life. Being estranged with one’s own family takes a lot of strength.

  24. Omeid Heidari

    Dr. Farmer had a style of connecting with patients that was driven by has passion for healing. Just from the amount of enthusiasm he put into his work, his patients knew that he truly cared about them and their well being. The best evidence of this is when he conducts rounds in the clinic. He always made himself available to his patients and was willing to answer their questions with any requests he had. It is this passion that should be exhibited by everyone, especially in the health care profession. It is that caring that makes the patients comfortable while in your care. This is how Dokte Paul was able to identify with any patient. It also helped that he was always willing to learn any languages and cultural practices associate with the Haitian people. The care that Dr. Farmer is truly inspirational and something that all people should aspire towards no matter what their profession.

  25. Symone Magsombol

    Dr. Farmer is a great example of someone who really understands the value of breaking the boundaries of trying to understand those with different backgrounds and upbringings. He shows great compassion, dedication, and commitment to serve those in Haiti, and make sure that receive the best healthcare available. His approach to medicine is that of true compassion by understanding what the Haitians have gone through, and disregarding their differences to his own. He really tries to understand them in the same level by not putting himself in a higher tier, but really as if he were to treat someone as his equal. He shows no prejudice views towards others, and I believe we can learn a lot from his approach to understanding others. He immerses himself into another culture, tries to really get to know his patients, and think realistically what is best for the individual. He is candid and honest with what he believes in, and through his work, you can see that all of this has truly made a difference to the Haitian people. The world can use more people like Dr. Farmer to inspire others to follow his work and living life through helping others by understanding differences between their own.

  26. Brenda Ramirez

    Farmer is able to connect with people because he interacts with people using an open mind and treats people like he would like to be treated. Throughout the reading, there are many things that illustrate this. For example, Farmer learning and understanding Creole says that he respects and is eager to treat people in Haiti from the Haitian perspective and not solely the U.S. perspective. In this example, Farmer demonstrates that he would like to understand and treat people like an insider, not an imposing foreigner.
    Another example is when Farmer sits with an HIV positive patient, Joe. Farmer treats him very informally and doesn’t question or probe him like the typical doctor would. This demonstrates how Farmer keeps his mind open and not judgmental. Instead of telling him to stop using cocaine, he tells him to use marijuana.
    I think Farmer’s background helped to shape the person he is and guides who he decides to help.
    I think Farmer’s methods of connecting are definitely something we should all aspire to. Farmer is idealistic, yet, at the same time he is realistic and takes certain routes in order to assure that his dreams can in fact become reality. Farmer trained himself at one of the best schools, so that he can have credentials and knowledge to help improve the situation in Haiti. Farmer is someone many of us could be.

  27. Patricia chiu

    In Part I, it appears that Paul Farmer has an affinity for knowing how to connect with different people from different cultures. When conversing with a homeless person afflicted with HIV, the narrator notes that Farmer has a tendency of staring at the person as if the person was the only one in the room; in addition, Farmer knows how to change his style of speech depending on person to person. Farmer is a chameleon like that; aware of his surroundings, Farmer changes his speech and actions accordingly. In one instance, Paul Farmer conducts a study to find out how to better serve the needs of the Haitians. The result is surprising to him because there was no correlation between what his TB patients’ had said about their beliefs and their health. The ones who were looked after (provided for) holistically, physically (health-wise and food-wise) and emotionally (the fact that the patients knew that they were being provided with money to buy food undoubtedly brought about happiness), were in better health than the patients who were just given medicine to treat their TB. This brought about the realization to Farmer that the Haitians really wanted to be genuinely cared for, not just given medicines to cure them of their ailments.

    If actions are done from the heart the constituents served will know. When helping people, especially when in the health field, one cannot just administer the medicine to cure the ailment; one has to put themselves in a mind-frame in which they truly do care about the whole well-being of the patient.

    1. Patricia Chiu

      In addition, we should all aspire to empathize and try to understand the people we come in contact with. Our interactions and relationships with others around us should be personal, rather than impersonal. Just because we are not living in their shoes doesn’t mean we should just stand idle; we should care.

  28. Cindy Arias

    Dr. Paul Farmer’s unique way of connecting with his patients regardless of h ow different they may be from one another is simple and yet hardly seen in the medical field these days. Obviously Dr. Farmer is a very busy man with several ‘occupations’ but as seen with his interactions in Haiti and with Joe back in Boston, he takes the time to talk to his patients. He takes the time to actually find out what they need not only medically but emotionally in order to get better. His genuine approach to speaking with others is a method that we can all use to better understand the people around us. Making direct eye contact showing concern in asking mundane questions is important in making the person feel comfortable and at ease. One of the most important things that I got from the reading is that Dr. Farmer seems ro blend into any setting he is in. In Haiti, he is one of the residents, in Boston he is an established doctor. Not differentiating himelf as an outsiders and immersing himself into the setting is essential in his professional growth but in his humanitarian growth as well.

  29. Dulshani BalasuriyaArachchi

    Dr. Farmer is a very intelligent man who is curious and stand up to what is right. As mentioned in part 1 he is a “champion of human rights” and does not hesitate to take a stand even against the views of his own country like in the Haiti situation. I think he is able to look at both sides of a problem and also understand the real needs of a person. This is one of the major reasons that he is able to connect with people who are from completely different backgrounds. He cares about people and takes the time out to put himself in the situation in order to actually experience and understand people there and their needs. This was clearly shown in the way he interacted with Joe and others who he treated at the hospital. I think his methods are the most effective way to solve issues and understand a situation. He did not care about how much he gets paid and his benefits. He gave full priority to people who are in need of his service and gave his 100% to help them. He is great role model and many problems can be solved if people thought and take action the way he does.

  30. Wendy Salazar

    Dr. Farmer’s ability to connect with people is definitely admirable. He takes that extra step to make his patients feel at ease and connected to him on a personal level. Dr. Farmer’s charisma helps him gain the trust of those around him. He seems to have a deeper level of understanding that others and part of that can be attributed to the level of education he has achieved, including a PhD in Anthropology. However, such ability to listen, care, and give can not be taught through books and lectures, but learned by experience. Part of what makes Dr. Farmer so recognized is his ability to blend in the community rather than standing out and making others feel at a lower level. WE should all aspire to be more like this honorable man. Of course, it comes easier to some than others, but it is possible. Now, I am not saying that we all need to just like him and accomplish all that he has, but definitely learn how to interact and connect with people of different backgrounds. In order for this to happen, however, one must first be aware of their own predisposed biases. Only then can one try to avoid being influenced by such biases and take on a different perspective. I truly believe this is one of Dr. Farmer’s accomplishments. He was able to not only become aware of his own biases, but of those general ideas in the given community he was working in. Once he had an idea, he was able to better help his patients and give them that treatment they weren’t exactly used to.

  31. Noelia

    Paul Farmer is definitely an out of the box type of thinker. I think that he is, in many ways, an excellent example of community engagement. His Ivy league education should steer him toward brushing elbows with the “elite” however, he chooses those who are unable to financially expend what his education merits. I think that, better than any monetary payment, he gets a sense of truly reaching and touching people’s lives in a meaningful way.

    By taking a deep interest in understanding the Haitians he demonstrates his eagerness to understand their culture and customs. This has a unifying Doctor-Patient effect which allows for better communication and understanding. The approach he uses with the coke addict is essentially instead of using this, use this (marijuana). He gives him an alternative. Genius!

    Instead of using his intelligence to simply give orders and announce himself, he tries to put himself in the person’s shoes. This willingness and openness to listening and understanding others is evidenced throughout this reading and is something would should all try to emulate.

  32. Jennifer-Christine Madamba

    From reading the book, I have gained inspiration from Paul Farmer. His communication skills are really effective. One of the most significant qualities that a doctor can give to his or her patients is the fact that there is a strong relationship between the two parties. Paul Farmer can easily connect and get along with people of different backgrounds and people with different stories. The fact that he has great love and passion for what he does makes him very successful. He is loving to his patients. He doesn’t talk down to them to make himself seem like a more superior or a better person.

    Farmer’s methods are quite inspirational and something that we should all aspire to. To every person or group that we strive to help, we should all try to make an effort to get to know them and build a relationship with them. We should never look upon other people in such a condescending manner and instead give them the attention that they deserve. I think this relates to our service learning projects because it’s important for us to build a good relationship with the people we work with. I think that’s the best way to make a difference- through connection.

  33. Kevin J. Son

    LATE: Forgot to submit… :(

    In the novel, Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, Paul Farmer portrays as a passionate, intelligent, and admirable person. These characteristics that Paul Farmer has give him the ability to connect with anyone that he crosses along his journey. Paul Farmer is a character that many people would love to be like. He is the type of character that gives the reader that extra drive to keep on reading. Paul Farmer is an intelligent person and he displays it through his knowledge about the medical field and also, attended a prestigious medical school. Treating people that really needs it in Haiti and doing it because he cares show the drive he has to help others. Farmer’s passion to make a difference in people’s lives displays his character as a role model. When Paul Farmer encounters a patient he always tries to make them feel comfortable and able to talk to him with little effort. Farmer treats everyone he encounters equally, which is a major part of his success in what he does. Most doctors imagine themselves working in a prestigious hospital and using their talents in a control environment with their bank accounts overflowing with greens, but Paul Farmer engages himself in an environment where people seek for help left and right and live in a poor society. Paul Farmer portrays himself as a nonprofit organization because he lends his talents with no charge attached.
    I believe the methods that Paul Farmer uses should be what we should be incorporating in many situations around the world. Even though were not the exact duplicate of Paul Farmer’s genes we should start acting like him little by little. We should contribute to areas that suffered from natural disasters or areas that just really needs the extra helping hand. One major thing that I believe should be taken from Paul Farmer’s method that would benefit our world is making sure we treat everyone equally. Paul Farmer should be a person that everyone looks up to.

  34. Nimrah Salim

    I think that he connects with people because instead of just being a doctor he tries to be a friend. The patient and doctor boundary is not as explicitly defined and the patients are able to see him a more of a friend. He is also very charismatic with allows him to be confident and outgoing. His nature warms him to the people around him. In addition his efforts to treat everyone the same and equal make him admirable. Also what is most important is is love for what he does. He loves his work and thats what makes him so successful at it. What all of us need to work on is being able to dispel stereotypes and be able to accept people as they. This would help us treat people more equally.

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