Presenter: Victoria Sweet, MD, PhD
Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine
Dr. Sweet is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a prize-winning historian with a Ph.D. in history. She practiced medicine for over twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, where she began writing.
In God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine (Riverhead, 2012), she laid out her evidence—in stories of her patients and her hospital—for some radically new ideas about medicine and healthcare in this country. Now, in Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing, she expands and builds on those ideas and stories. In our attempts to get control of healthcare costs by privileging “efficiency,” she suggests, we’ve been headed down the wrong path. Medicine works best—that is, arrives at the right diagnosis and the right treatment for the least amount of money—when it is personal and face-to-face; when the doctor has enough time to do a good job, and pays attention not only to the patient but to what’s around the patient. Dr. Sweet calls this approach Slow Medicine, and she believes that, put into wider practice, it would be not only more satisfying and beneficial for patient and doctor, but also less expensive for everyone.
The New York Times has called her ideas “hard-core subversion”; Vanity Fair has judged God’s Hotel to be a “radical and compassionate alternative to modern healthcare,” and Health Affairs has described Dr. Sweet as a “visionary” and “subversive in all the best ways.” She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2014) for Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing.