We recently celebrated Pat Chase’s phased retirement from her position of dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy. Pat is our longest-serving dean in the Health Sciences Center, having held the post of Gates-Wigner Dean of Pharmacy for nine years.

She is a very special person and created a program for professional students called My First Patient – meaning that the first patient a health professions student should focus on is himself or herself.

They should be the change they want to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi, the famous non-violent leader and agent of change in India, uttered this quote, or something close to it.

According to Brian Morton of the New York Times, the closest verifiable remark we have from Gandhi is this:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”

What if we all take this approach and focus on changing ourselves before changing others? Walt Kelly in his famous comic strip Pogo said,

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Isn’t that true for most things?

I told the starfish story in a previous post; the individuals we touch and help make a big difference. My First Patient tells us that we need to start with our health and then build health in others – eat real food and less sugar, exercise (walk 12,000 steps per day), sleep at least 6 hours per night, earn good friends, be grateful, and enjoy life’s simple gifts.

Since we are our own first patient, we can indeed be the change we wish to see in others.

Thank you, Pat, for delivering this message and program to us. You have provided a lasting legacy to follow.