Dr. David Aronoff sat in an exam room, listening to his patient hurry through a long list of symptoms and a medical history as if she was being timed. When she finished, the patient asked why Aronoff didn’t interrupt her.
He was listening.
“There are two talents that all physicians can bring to their patients, and they’re free and go farther than anything else we can do,” Aronoff said. “They are to listen, and to think. When physicians cut either of those activities short, patients can detect that, and that harms the doctor-patient relationship.”
It’s something many patients fear, he said: that their doctors won’t give them that thoughtfulness, and they appreciate it much more when it does happen.
“My solutions may not be better than any other physician’s, but I can see that I make an impact on their lives just by listening to them and having a thoughtful conversation about what is going on.”
Aronoff, an associate professor and medical doctor in internal medicine-infectious diseases, is not just a practicing physician; he also teaches in the Medical School and works in research laboratories. His schedule is divided into weeks spent in each of his three activities. He’ll have several weeks throughout the year, for example, where his primary responsibility is seeing patients in the hospital.
As a professor, Aronoff teaches one class each spring to first-year medical students on infectious diseases and medical microbiology, his two areas of expertise. He also teaches in the lab — how to ask the right questions and design effective experiments — and in clinics, showing residents and fellows his approach to patient care.
Aronoff also runs his own lab, which focuses on research involving microbial infections of the female reproductive tract. He knew he liked science from a young age, but didn’t have a specialty until working on his bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, where he discovered microbiology as a blend between science and medicine — his other passion.
Microbiology wasn’t the only love he found at IU. It was there where he also met his wife. They now have three children — one boy and two girls. Finding a good environment for raising their children was a major factor in the Aronoffs moving to Ann Arbor in 2002 when David accepted his current position on the U-M faculty.
Before coming to U-M, Aronoff earned his M.D. from Tufts University and did his internship, residency and fellowship at Vanderbilt University, where he will return in October as their new director of the Division of Infectious Diseases.
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Dr. David Aronoff, an associate professor and medical doctor in internal medicine-infectious diseases, on what he can't live without: "My family. That’s the most important thing for me."
Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, 7:30 p.m. March 14, Hill Auditorium, sponsored by the University Musical Society.