Three years later, in my last year of training as a cardiologist, I was writing my first chapter on heart rhythm disorders for a major textbook. I desperately wanted to attend a conference at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago on interpretation of complex electrocardiograms, but couldn’t afford such a trip—even though my salary had increased to an astonishing $300/month. Duke cardiology had no money to send me.

I made an appointment to see Kempner.

“Dr. Kempner, do you remember me?” I asked, standing in front of his desk. I wiped moist hands on my pants and fidgeted from one foot to the other. Would he remember me? Would he be angry? He could still have me fired.

He set down the medical journal he was reading, pushed back from his desk, and peered at me over glasses perched at the end of his nose.

“Ah, yes,” he said, “I do remember. The intern who gives salty blood to my patients.” A hint of a smile teased the corners of his eyes and I relaxed a little. I realized I had been holding my breath and gulped in some air. “What can I do you for you, Dr. Zipes?”

I explained I wanted to attend this conference and had no money. “How much do you need?” he asked.

I said, “I think $250 will cover the plane ticket and hotel.”

Without saying a word, he opened his desk drawer and removed a checkbook. He looked at me for a long second before writing, and then concentrated on his checkbook. He ripped the check from the ledger and handed it to me. I thanked him and glanced at it—$300.

Before I left, he transfixed me once again with those piercing eyes. “Sometimes it’s better to follow your own conscience, isn’t it Dr. Zipes?” he said, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. He nodded my dismissal and returned to his reading.

I was lucky this time. This could have ended badly. As it turned out, during that trip to Chicago, I met a doctor from Indiana University Medical Center. He suggested I come for a visit—and the rest is history.

How did your experience work out? Let me know. Email me here and don’t forget to check out my latest novel Not Just a Game now available on Amazon