Table 1.

Themes and Representative Quotes Culled from Patient Correspondence

1. Being there
  • “Always being available for listening or discussion far beyond our medical needs.”

  • “It will take me a long time for me to get used to the fact that I can't just pick up the phone and take advantage of your expertise when I need medical or personal advice.”

  • “You always had time for us no matter what you were doing for yourself.”

2. Caring
  • “[You had] an amazing career as a compassionate and caring doctor, the best healing medicine can provide.”

  • “Thank you for your great medical care and loving care.”

3. Medical expertise
  • “I have trusted your judgment about my medical needs and have been comfortable with your way of thinking.”

  • “No matter what the wisdom of the specialist, it just wasn't true until we heard it from you.”

4. Personal characteristics
  • “Taking the time to listen prior to any judgment.”

  • “You made us feel like we were the most important people in the world.”

5. Multiple roles/anything goes
  • “You have been our healer, helper in sad times, and always our friend.”

6. Family doctor
  • “It's like saying good bye to a member of the family.”

  • “You cared for my health and you understood my family.”

  • “You knew us far beyond our medical needs.”

7. Continuity
  • “You have been my friend and healer most of my life.”

  • “Expressing my deepest appreciation to you…for the kindness and patience you have shown my family for the past 43 years.”

  • “My friend and my healer most of my life.”