Alumnus explores the qualities of mercy in humanities lecture

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Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D. ’79, gave the annual William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture on Thursday, March 26, at the School of Medicine.

Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D. ’79, says he was struck by the concept of mercy as a young medical student just getting started at the School of Medicine. The notion of compassion toward others continued to develop further throughout his medical school career by following the lead of the school’s docents, who modeled for students a compassionate style of care.

Today, Hall-Flavin shares those same characteristics of mercy and compassion with his patients and others as an associate professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Hall-Flavin spoke on the Quality of Mercy in delivering the annual William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture on Thursday, March 25, at the School of Medicine.

His talk explored the meaning of mercy and its role in our traditions, the spiritual domain and in its relationship to justice. He also shared how William Sirridge and his wife, Marjorie Sirridge, M.D., who served as Hall-Flavin’s docent, taught medical students how to treat their patients with empathy.

“He and Dr. Marjorie, along with other founding faculty, set the bar for docents for this medical school then, now and always for the future,” Hall-Flavin said.

Hall-Flavin said that William Sirridge often shared stories of medicine and caring for patients that filled his students with confidence and good humor.

“It was like being around a medical camp fire,” Hall-Flavin said.

The day turned out to be an extra special affair for Hall-Flavin. Prior to giving this year’s medical humanities lecture, Hall-Flavin received word that he was selected to take part in a master’s program in medical humanities at the King’s College in London. He has been a visitor at the center for neuroethics at the University of Oxford and is currently a member of the Oxford Round Table, an organization that promotes education, art, science, religion and charity through academic conferences and scholarly papers.