Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Yankee Doodling

The gatekeeper and the wizard, redux

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 07 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3624
  1. Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist, RTI International, and associate editor, BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

    An Old World fable exported to America (with apologies and homage to Nigel Mathers1 2 3)

    Once upon a time, in a country far away, lived a great wizard with wondrous healing powers. He lived in a splendid castle on a hill overlooking the city. The wizard was clever. He knew how to use magic crystals to see inside people to find out what was wrong with them, and he had magic spells and potions to treat their illnesses. When sick people came to see the wizard, he often cured them or made them feel better and live longer. For his work he was paid handsomely.

    Down the hill, in a nice big house, though not as grand as the wizard’s, lived a gatekeeper. An important part of her job was to decide who got to see the wizard. She was also clever, and she had magic potions as well. After …

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