Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rural Scholar Joy

Was accepted into our rural scholars program this past week.  It will allow me to do several rotations back-to-back in a single location in a rural environment.  I’ll enjoy the continuity of working with the same folks for almost 4 months and be around the kind of down-to-earth, get ‘er done folks I appreciate so much. Am quite excited about the prospect and hope I find a great match and a location that helps me think through rural issues that I haven’t considered, yet. I hope to open clinics and provide access in a rural area in a way that hasn’t been done before. I hope I can transfer the knowledge I gather here to other locations that could use the help. My goal is to create very effective means of providing care while moving resources into those communities as the communities themselves choose to value and support that care. I hope to help folks take responsibility for their health and show them how they might do that individually and collectively.

I know each community will be different, but I think it will be a terrific adventure. Have been actively planning how to do this and developing contacts over the last couple of years. The goal is to have a model created by the end of school and then begin to discuss implementation when I am assigned to a residency program. Will have to wait until then to actually make it happen. Now is the time to work out the big bugs and learn from the mistakes of others.


Have found a new buddy that has been a welcome addition in my life. He is a bit older than me, and he and I have a very similar outlook on why things are the way they are. We have a pretty good list of happy hour menus that we are compiling, so we can go out and chew the fat and not pay much over $10 each – even though the entrees at these places are over $30… Not having peers has been a palpable hole in my existence the last few years. It’s nice to have someone to listen to who works hard for a living and wants to make the world a better place in his own way. It’s nice to be able to share my ideas in a safe environment with little fear of attack from an opinionated adversary. Rather, I am only receiving a differing opinion from him, and we agree to contribute a willingness to allow one another to be just as we are.  

No... not nice. Necessary.

Bunyai the Hyundai

I’ve needed a new head gasket in my car for the last 5 years or so. It leaks.  The engine lugs and smells like oil when it is about a quart low. It runs remarkably better when it has oil in it. Haven’t changed it out because I don’t have the time to figure out how to do it myself or the money to take it to the shop. The engine leaks about a quart every couple of thousand miles. Bad for the environment, but then so is driving... Fortunately, I drive very little. Maybe that adds to my non-replacement inertia. I think if I can get thru the next year or so, I’ll have it done, so I can be ready to take trips for residency interviews and then travel to my residency when I finally learn where that will be. Why will I have money then? I won’t. However, I will pay less interest on what I spend later, and I should have more flexibility in my schedule to find a reliable shop (not easy) and get it in to them - and wait for the work to be done. Best I can tell, it still functions well in its current state.

Bunyai (2001 Hyundai Accent) has been a great little car. Have spent very little money on it and has gotten me around quite well for the last 8 years and 80K miles.  Hopefully, we’ll go another 80K together.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

VA Day

The Veterans Day walk at the VA Hospital was a wonderful success.

It was a special year in that both the OHSU President and the Dean of the School of Medicine published letters commemorating the day and thanking veterans.  As I understand it, Rob West and Kathleen McFall in the Dean’s Office encouraged that to happen. I hope Rob and Kathleen, and Drs. Robertson and Richardson will accept my sincere thanks for that. I truly think veterans deserve to be remembered. Collectively and individually, they certainly made that happen.
We had nine students, a veteran friend of mine, and two gracious physicians give of their time.  They were Drs. Mark Deffebach and Jennifer LeTourneau, Julie Doberne, Annika Giesbrecht, Geoff Maly, Andrew Peckham, Mackenzie Farley, Nick Eglitis, Natalie Wu, and Albert Alaniz. Rob West also took photos. Thank you all for your kindness and willingness to give these folks a few hours out of your busy schedules. While we can’t discuss details due to privacy concerns, here are some allowable excerpts from the encounters:
"I held one veteran’s hand as he cried and described American aviator POWs being stoned to death in the streets before they could be liberated."
"I hugged a lady whose veteran partner will die in a couple of months from his lymphoma."
"One veteran told us about the way the Korean winter caused a deep ache in his newly-healed bullet-hole when he would lie on the ground at 35 below."
"One lady said that in her 50 years of being a veteran, no one had ever told her thank you."
Many asked us to stay longer. Some cried as they thanked us when we left.  It is such an honor to share a few moments with people with such huge hearts and to understand how it gives them great joy and a sense of pride and sometimes needed relief to be able to tell their stories.  I confess that sometimes I don’t do that as well as I would like, but I believe we truly made a difference for them yesterday. I know they made a difference in me.
Overall, we had tremendous support and genuinely positive feedback from the OHSU and VA communities. Thank you all for coming. Thank you all for adding good moments to the lives of these veterans as you honored their sacrifices. You guys are awesome. Will look for you next year.