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Class of 1984 Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

up might think twice before choosing a career in a primary care
specialty or practicing in a rural or low-income location. Physicians
who grew up in rural or other underserved areas are more likely to
return to serve those populations, but the high cost of a medical
education adds to the barriers faced by aspiring medical students
from racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups that are underrepresented in the profession. In our feature article on medical
student debt, T. J. Huckleberry and I attempt to provide a look
'behind the curtain' of this problem, and in his column T.J. expresses
his (stressed out!) reaction to the calculations he made after one of his
young sons proclaimed his plan to become a doctor.
In contemplating medical student debt, as well as other sources
of stress many physicians must deal with from medical school
onward, I realize that I have gotten off lightly in many ways. Early
in medical school I found that if I made the most of each day's
learning opportunities and spent the majority of my 'free' time
studying, I could master the material I was expected to and enjoy
the process. Just as important, the atmosphere at my school (Johns
Hopkins) was the polar opposite of competitive among the students
and strongly supportive on the part of the staff and administration.
This atmosphere fostered the development of close friendships and
feelings of confidence and security. After graduation and completion
of my residency, I had the good fortune to join the practice where
I remain happy almost 26 years later-in large part because I have
been allowed the freedom to practice in a style that leaves me feeling

at the end of the day that I have met the needs of my patients to the
best of my ability. I have to admit, however, that not all is sweetness
and light: very recently I was rudely snatched from sleep by an
excruciatingly vivid nightmare in which I was doing battle with our
electronic record system over trying to find the most specific, most
appropriate ICD 10 diagnosis to document an unusual condition
when I heard a strange sound and looked around just in time to
watch in horror as my patient's lifeless body slipped from the exam
chair. I am not making this up!
I know I'm not alone in suffering from the stress created by
EMR, ICD 10, MACRA, legislative mandates, pre-authorization
hassles, the onslaught of high-deductible insurance policies,
constantly-changing drug coverage policies, and on, and on, and ....
It will never end as long as we keep getting up in the morning and
taking care of our patients. The best antidote that I have found to
dealing with 'it' is to spend time with colleagues I respect, and whose
company I enjoy, while we work together to protect our patients and
our profession and even occasionally just relax and play together.
Yes, I am referring to the Berks County Medical Society. Even in
medical school I did not find a more hardworking, congenial, and
supportive group-which is saying a lot. If you are experiencing any
symptoms of burnout (and even if you are not), I can recommend an

Commencement photo with friends




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