a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Why I had to change my name


I get captivated by medicine
Sherwin Nuland Surgeon
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Now I had a relative in the generation ahead of me, who had come to this country with his three brothers and his father and mother, lived on the Lower East side, been very poor, and… essentially invented the concept of the children's snowsuit and built a business called Tidy Products, and the snowsuits were called Tidykins, and became very wealthy. His brother… became… started out as a plumber and built one of the biggest heating and… air-conditioning companies in New York, put all the heating and air-conditioning into the UN.

So, these two boys, who had not even graduated from high school, had done very well. Business acumen must have had a lot to do with it. And both of them, especially my cousin Joe, the one I knew the best, took it on themselves to care for distant members of the family who were in financial trouble. And as my mother was very ill – she had intestinal cancer almost from the time I knew her, I guess from about when I was six or seven, I knew she had intestinal cancer – he would send cheques… that he and his brother had contributed to, and when I was… going to college, he offered to pay for it, and it wasn't necessary, because I had those scholarships.

When I came to apply to medical school, and now here I have to go backward, because I haven't said anything about where I got interested in medicine. My older brother was always going to be the doctor. I was fascinated by biology and I was fascinated by the way people behave. And in one of my autograph books from the sixth grade, I noticed that it said future occupation. I'd written in biologist, and I felt that way right through junior high school. But I was looking for something other than the opportunity to peer down a microscope at paramecia. I really wanted to work with people, and I didn't, at that time, see any way, anybody, in a field of biology, which was still pretty primitive – it wasn't what it is today – how such… biologists could work with people.

Sherwin Nuland (1930-2014) was an American surgeon and author who taught bioethics, the history of medicine, and medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. He wrote the book How We Die which made The New York Times bestseller list and won the National Book Award. He also wrote about his own painful coming of age as a son of immigrants in Lost in America: A Journey with My Father. He used to write for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Time, and the New York Review of Books.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: USA, Tidy Products

Duration: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2011

Date story went live: 13 September 2011