Richard L. Mahrer, MD SCCMA Member Since 1956
This, I Believe The importance of giving By Richard L. Mahrer, MD I am nearly 83 years old. I am still a practicing physician and have been in the sole practice of internal medicine for 54 years because I still believe in giving to my patients all that I can, from the profession I truly love. My wife (youthful and beautiful) is my office manager and is no doubt one of the reasons patients still come. Together, we make a good health team, but in a league which time has nearly forgotten. I’ve always believed in the importance of giving both of myself and my skills to any patient who chooses me as their doctor. When I had the good fortune to be admitted to medical school, it was with enormous relief, gratitude, and enthusiasm. I believed I had found my life’s work, despite the seem-
ingly endless hours of study, examinations, and training, which did, however, succeed in producing an embryo physician, enabling me to enjoy the coming years of practice with a significant measure of equanimity, which I feel is the sin equa non of medical practice. Internship, residency, and temporary service in the Army Medical Corps encompassed a six-year interval after medical school graduation, helping to improve my confidence and experience, confirming the belief that the giving of myself and my skills to my patients was to become the mantra of my professional life. I believe that my work as a physician is neither a part-time job, nor should it lead to premature retirement as a result of financial reward. I believe that my life’s work should last a lifetime
and that I owe that much to my teachers, who had confidence in me, and to my patients, who I hope have felt the same. I believe that in giving to patients my listening, understanding, and experience sprinkled with a generous helping of humor, and even a little skill, has rewards far in excess of monetary compensation. The simple act of giving has the emotional satisfaction and contentment that keeps me looking forward to my next day of practice—which is still 24/7! I also believe in my patients, who are often engulfed in unwanted medical and emotional tragedies. I still make house calls, which is a practice not included today in most physician’s list of therapeutic endeavors. One involved a non-reimbursed, life-saving helicopter call and out of town (aerial call) to accompany a paraplegic patient on her dream balloon ride when her local physicians refused to go. I also take care of patients in convalescent homes (where many colleagues fear to tread), as well as seeing office patients, and those who tragically end up with hospice care. I believe giving can create a positive affect so important to patients who return the favor to me, but I also believe in the advancing and exciting new innovations in diagnosis and treatment, which will benefit our entire global community. My medical journey in solo practice is fast becoming an extinct entity and I’m afraid I can be considered a medical dinosaur. Perhaps medicine is advancing at such a great speed, that the time honored doctor/patient relationship will become sadly challenged and jeopardized. I only hope the new wave of physicians will share the beliefs of giving that have made for me a practice filled with joy and satisfaction. It is a work still in progress and certainly not yet finished. Richard L. Mahrer, MD, has been an SCCMA member since 1956. He has practiced internal medicine in San Jose for over 54 years.
28 | THE BULLETIN | MARCH / APRIL 2011