In March 2005, medical school dean Steve Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Forced at gunpoint to take the wheel of the perpetrator's own car, Berk faced a series of critical choices that day, any of which could have determined survival or death.
Berk's experiences and training as a physician, especially his understanding of Sir William Osler's treatise on aequanimitas, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice.
This chilling story is not just about a crime, or even the alarming realization that it could happen anywhere, to anyone. It is a story about patients, about physicians, and about what each experience has taught Berk about life and death, mistakes, family, the practice of medicine, and the physician--patient relationship. But most of all it is a story about how Berk's chosen profession prepared him for an unpredictable situation--and how any doctor must address life's uncertainties.
Steven L. Berk, M.D., is the dean of the Texas Tech School of Medicine and provost of Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. As a physician certified in infectious disease and geriatrics, Berk has treated an outstanding diversity of patients in his forty-year medical career.