Back to School
JASON S. SLAKTER, MD
I have 3 children, one a recent college graduate, one a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, and one a junior in high school who is looking forward to her college experience. As we have gone on the "college tour circuit" over the past few years, I had an opportunity to rediscover all of the different courses and learning opportunities available. When I was a college student, I was a typical "premed" with a major in biology and a focus on the natural sciences. Little did I realize then how valuable some other areas of study would be in my daily practice as a physician. If I could go back to college now, I know 3 areas that I would like to pursue.
The first, and probably most obvious, would be an extensive course of study in business administration. Without question, I have come to realize that successfully treating patients in 2008 entails not only the ability to provide the highest quality of medical care, but also the ability to maintain and manage a successful business as well.
The second would be a thorough training in both physics and biochemistry. I have no doubt that a solid grounding in these areas would offer me a much better understanding of the technologies that we use to evaluate and diagnose our patients. It would also afford an opportunity to sort out the basic science, as well as the clinical results, of pharmaceutical therapies employed on an ever-expanding basis.
The third area of study would definitely be psychology. Having a better grasp of the fundamentals of interpersonal interactions as a means to enhance the management of patients, their expectations, and their responses to treatment would be extremely useful. Of equal importance would be the ability to improve my dealings with interpersonal crises and manage the ever-growing staff required to maintain a retinal practice in today's environment. Of course, a better understanding of psychological behavior would also help me to more fully appreciate and understand my partners and colleagues as well.
STUCK IN THE PRESENT
Since we cannot turn back the clock, and I do not see myself going back to school any time soon, I guess I am just going to have to rely on my children. I am lucky enough that my older son just graduated from Wharton with a degree in economics, my middle son is studying biomedical engineering, and my daughter is pursuing a career in acting and theater, which, of course, is all about people and relationships. I just hope that they take pity on Dad and help me out when times get tough for me in my medical practice.