THE 1960S, when I was a college student preparing to enter medical school, were times of great uncertainty. However, I was certain I would become a general practitioner (as they were proudly called then) or perhaps an internist and would return to eastern Kentucky to practice. The only 2 disciplines I had eliminated in my mind were psychiatry and surgery.
To gain experience in medicine and perhaps enhance my chances for medical school admission, employment in a research laboratory at the new University of Kentucky College of Medicine at Lexington was recommended. Employment, with some compensation, rather than volunteering was crucial to provide a few needed dollars. I was granted interviews with 2 faculty members at the medical school about possible laboratory opportunities. The first was with Edmund Pelligrino, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr Pelligrino, who would become one of the country's leading medical ethicists, was nicely attired in his crisp, starched shirt; bow tie; and pressed white laboratory coat. He was interested in calcium metabolism, if my memory serves me correctly, and we had a stimulating discussion on the value of Latin (which I was currently studying) in the education of a physician. He invited me to consider working in his laboratory and to notify his office within a week or two, if I was interested. Although I was certain this was the opportunity for me, I thought it would be discourteous not to attend my second interview in the surgery department.