What’s in my white coat?

Interview by Kate Colwell

Charles “Chip” Read (M’85, R’88, W’91)Charles “Chip” Read (M’85, R’88, W’91)

Charles “Chip” Read (M’85, R’88, W’91) is a pulmonary and critical care physician at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. He is a professor of medicine and surgery, vice-chair of inpatient services for the Department of Medicine, and director of adult critical care.

  1. I sometimes misplace my stethoscope, so I bought a blue one to help me identify it from the usual black ones around.
  2. (From his desk) I still have my old Proctor Harvey stethoscope from med school, but the rubber wore out. One day on the ICU rounds, I was listening to a patient’s breath but the sounds were out of sync with the ventilator. I realized that the tubing had worn off and I was listening to my own breathing through the earpieces.
  3. I keep my old-school caliper for reading EKGs, to measure rates and rhythms. It reminds me of days of yore and still comes in handy.
  4. I used index cards when I was at D.C. General to record patients’ names and data before we had EMRs. We didn’t have a good record system, so I would keep my own minirecords in my desk.
  5. I have a pen fetish, a black roller-ink Pentel. In the days of written charts, I liked a bold, black ink so that I could page through the record and find my own notes easily. I order them by the gross. When one is found lying around, anyone who knows me also knows it belongs to me.
  6. I like using a planner to keep a record of where I’ll be and important dates. I have kept them since 1985. If I write my memoirs, I can relive a certain day just by paging back through them.
  7. If you’re working with radiation like fluoroscopy or X-rays, you carry a radiation badge, so they can monitor your exposure level.
  8. I carry my two business cards (MedStar and the university), plus my old one from D.C. General. I have the transplant consortium’s card. I also keep my dentist’s office card, with his office manager’s name on the back. He is a young guy who developed a viral myocarditis and required a heart assist device while awaiting a transplant. It reminds me of how quickly life can turn on a dime. My father passed away back in ’92, and I still have one of his business cards with my brother’s phone number written on it. That card reminds me of my roots.