real doctors, real people – Terrence Holt

Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013

Written by Nathan Clendenin for UNC Health Care

Imagine your favorite doctor. Now imagine him or her going through the grueling years of medical school and specialty training. You might have someone in their 20s or early 30s in mind, perhaps someone in the prime of life. The first image may not be someone like Terrence Holt, MD, PhD, who is in the UNC Department of Social Medicine. For him, medicine is a second career. Holt spent the first part of his life in the literary world and didn’t enter medical school until the age of 40.

After spending more than a decade in this new career, Holt resumed writing. In September 2009, at the age of 57, he published a collection of short stories, In the Valley of the Kings, which placed him in the company of other physicians, like Somerset Maugham and Anton Chekhov, who found overlapping concepts in the world of fiction, as well as medicine. The New York Times said of the book, “it will take its rightful place beside those works of genius — fiction, philosophy, theology — unafraid of axing into our iced hearts.” Holt didn’t stop with the first collection, his new book, Internal Medicine, is finished and now with the publisher, Norton, scheduled for a September 2014 release.

With real doctors, real people we’ve filmed the exciting lives of various physicians from pilots to rock climbers, but as Holt said himself, “Writing is possibly the least visual activity in existence.” Who wants to see a man hunched over a desk, squirming and groaning as he births new life onto a page? Not me! So for this piece we decided to do some creative interpretation while Dr. Holt reads an excerpt from one of his short stories, ‘O Logos. If you’d like to read the entire story, which we highly recommend, visit:

But first, enjoy this dramatic reading of ‘O Logos.