After decades of practicing medicine, what would you tell physicians entering practice today?
Be professional. Dress well, including a long sleeve shirt and tie.
Ask a senior mentor/partner for help.
Do not be arrogant.
Be kind and generous to your patients.
What area of medicine would you recommend for aspiring physicians?
Surgery of any type. Good surgeons will be needed for years to come. Surgery will teach you how to make life and death decisions with little time or even directly on the spot.
What area of medicine do you feel is the most challenging to practice?
In Surgery: Pediatric surgery, Neurosurgery and Open heart surgery
In Medicine: Neurology
In Pediatric : Neonatology
What did you like most about practicing medicine in the 21st century?
The 21st century advancements are amazing. It has allowed for surgeons to operate on any type of patient, regardless of size or weight. We can now cure cancers in patients that were not feasible even a few years ago. Today, we are still discovering drugs and inventing machines to cure diseases we didn’t think we could cure years ago.
Can you comment on some of the advancements in technology you saw over your career?
Laparoscopic Surgery (Keyhole surgery). These smaller incisions lead to faster recovery.
Fetal Surgery ( we can now perform surgery on babies before they are born).
In Vetro Fertilization.
Genetic engineering can now ensure newborn babies are free of chronic diseases, like Cystic Fibrosis.
Microscopic Surgery allows us to replant fingers as well as nerve transplants.
Robotic Surgery: With enhanced precision, surgeons now do less damage to surrounding tissue, so patients experience less pain.
What role do you feel a national government should play in healthcare?
I believe the government should control Drug & Medical equipment, and insurance companies. With that our premiums will be lower, offer more benefits, and provide controls for these excessive salaries and bonuses for their executives. The government should also be providing controls to malpractice insurance costs and awards. However, to the extent possible, they should leave doctors, hospitals, and patients alone.
Another option is they could provide free health care to everyone by deducting part of our annual income toward the cost of healthcare. Similar to what we see with our social security, medicare, and medicaid deductions.
What is the biggest challenge to the medical industry faces?
The cost of healthcare and the lack of access for many people in our country.
What are your thoughts on the medical insurance industry?
It’s very expensive, there is minimal control and involvement from our government and the salaries and bonuses of the executives are way too much.
Who was your greatest mentor, and how did you meet that person?
Dr. H.Biemann Othersen. I first met him during my training in Pediatric Surgery in Charleston SC in 1978.
Tell us a valuable lesson you learned from your mentor?
He taught me so many lessons. He would always show kindness and treat everyone the same, regardless of their background or wealth. He taught me always be professional, to do my best, and to never give up on caring for my patients. To have faith in God and confidence in yourself. He said to never be afraid to ask for help or to accept advice from more experienced physicians.
Is there one procedure that you feel was always the most challenging to perform?
Yes, for me it was removing a foreign body, like a peanut from the Trachea (windpipe) in children with an acute respiratory distress, using the Bronchoscope.
Tell us something your patients taught you?
To be humble. I always felt it was my duty to provide the care that my patients were grateful to receive.
Can you tell us a question that you were asked almost every day?
What’s for dinner?
What are some of your favorite ways to stay healthy?
I start my day each morning with a sugar and fat free breakfast. I also walk a few miles every day, regardless of the season. I also enjoy riding a bicycle a few miles in the Summer and to ski in the Winter. I get plenty of sleep each night and see my doctor twice a year.
What does the future of medicine look like to you?
Not great. To me, it looks like we’ll be overworking our doctors for too little reward. I’m concerned about the increasing trend of medical malpractice lawsuits and government control in the wrong places.
Do you feel medicine is going to become more affordable in the future?
No, I’m afraid it will become more expensive.
If you had the ear of every doctor in the world, what would you say?
Do not spread too thin, control your own destiny, and if it’s too hot for you, get out of the kitchen.
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