I was a 3rd year medical student at Stanford when I met Greg during his surgical internship five years ago. We spent countless hours together on the general surgery service at the Palo Alto VA, which was one of my first as a medical student. He taught me basic skills like how to remove surgical staples, he corrected my documentation and did all of the numerous things we do to teach each other the technical aspects of doctoring. But more importantly, he reminded me why I entered medical school in the first place.
He always took time to get to know the patients, to answer their questions, speak to their fears and provide comfort. He could connect to anyone no matter their background and I was in awe of his bedside manner. He was the kind of doctor that inspires you to do better. And he was always honest about his fears about being a new doctor – a fear I would learn to know a few years later.
At the end of medical school, he ran into me during a rotation and I complained that I wasn’t getting much teaching. He was in the ICU at the time, so he would take me to see his patients and provide the teaching I needed to prepare me for internship. Not surprisingly, my graduating medical school class voted him “best teaching resident” by a landslide and I was so proud to see him get the recognition he deserved.
I had the ultimate luck to continue on at Stanford as an emergency medicine resident. That meant working with the surgical residents on a daily basis and Greg was the best. He was truly a patient advocate in every sense. In fact, the Emergency Medicine Residency also voted him as our best consultant in 2009. During our graduation ceremony, we all receive 8×10 framed pictures of us “in action” at work. I was so pleased to open my picture this past June to find me, with Greg right behind me, both hard at work on a trauma victim. It gives me an element of peace to know that he’s never far away – in fact, he’s always just over my desk in my office, helping me to care for someone who is sick.
The outpouring of support online and through the Stanford Community has been really impressive – it comes as no surprise the number of people who have come forward to say that Greg touched their lives in a similar way. I wish now that I would have told him more how inspiring he was to me and what a role model he was for all of us at Stanford. He was always adept at shrugging off compliments and never accepting praise. I wish that I could have been there for him in some way, but I hope he knows that I will continue to strive to be a better doctor and a better person each day as a tribute to him.
The world seems darker after losing such a bright, charismatic, and truly inspiring person. I want to thank you for sharing him with me.
Laura Edgerley-Gibb M.D.