Leonard Zwelling

In the June 1 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, primary care pediatrician Eleanor R. Menzin puts a new spin on an issue that this blog has written about frequently—the benefit of doctors eating lunch together.

She relates how she initially eschewed the invitations to lunch by her senior partner despite his imploring her that these lunches at the children’s hospital would provide her with great contacts to be used in her practice in the future.

Menzin was a busy clinician and mother and didn’t have the time to squeeze in the networking meals. Instead, she developed her own network through emails, but also through many face-to-face meetings with other doctors through her own practice (the doctors’ kids were her patients) or through their practices (her kids were their patients). She also notes that these interactions were occasions for learning as well as for better patient care.

As she says now that she has been in practice for 25 years, “good advice has no statute of limitations.” You simply cannot network enough, but you can surely network too little and any device that enhances networking among physicians is a good thing. Now she has decided to reactivate the lunch idea for new partners joining her practice and is inviting her whole network. What a novel idea!

This blog has repeatedly pleaded with Dr. Pisters to reactivate the faculty dining room for exactly the reasons cited in this editorial. There simply is no substitute (and that includes zooming) for interpersonal, face-to-face interactions to develop long-term professional and personal relationships that will advance both patient care and research.

I understand that Dr. Pisters does not want to single out the faculty for such a benefit. That is because he does not understand how modern academic medicine works although the benefits of a communal meal among doctors have been known for over 100 years. It is the casual curbside consult that can often unlock the mystery of a difficult patient. Now more than ever, it is critical for those doing laboratory-based science to closely interact with those doing hands-on patient care so that the clinician can understand what is possible using modern science and the scientist can understand the clinical problems that most vex physicians.

I know that the concept of the faculty dining room is one that the faculty embraces, but Dr. Pisters rejects. Frankly, he is simply wrong on this one.

It is time to set aside formal space for a meeting and eating room where food can be purchased and ideas can be shared. The real beneficiaries of the faculty dining room are the patients or has Dr. Pisters forgotten who he really works for?

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

on amazon if you search using the title and subtitle,


directly from the publisher Dorrance at:

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