What do you think needs to happen for prescription medications to be more accessible?
It’s a complex question. With companies that sell drugs, the push for prof- its is sometimes overwhelming. People have to pay exorbitantly high prices. If you look at the prices of similar medicines in other countries, sometimes they’re a lot lower. It would seem that there ought to be some way to lower prices so that people can afford them.
Why is “refraining to act” so important?
Sometimes you’re not sure how to act because you don’t have the in- formation or the data to make a clear-cut diagnosis. Or if you do have a clear-cut diagnosis, you may not have effective therapy. If the course of a patient’s disease has a slow tempo and doesn’t require therapy, it’s best to step back and see how things develop. William Osler and other physicians had an old thing called “tincture of time” — that time was the best therapy for some patients.
How would you say the Dallas medical community has changed?
Medicine is a lot more crowded, in the sense of more physicians being available. For instance, I can tell you that when I started in Dallas, in hematology and oncology, there were three specialists in the whole city. Now there are probably 30 or 40 at least. We certainly need more primary care physicians, really more than we need specialists.
How would you change medical education?
I’d get rid of the debt. There might also be ways to streamline medical education so it doesn’t take quite as long and still be as effective for young doctors.
What challenges are your students facing?
The applicants for medical school seem to be at or near an all-time high. On the other hand, medical student debt is a big problem. I had a scholarship offer pretty much all the way through medical school. It really was a tremendous help.
Why did you start teaching?
I got a taste of it when I was a student and a teaching assistant. I realized students teach you as much as you teach them.
What’s your favorite part of teaching?
Oh, my goodness. I like pretty much all of it. Hearing a student, an intern or resident present a case and try to figure out the diagnosis is a big challenge. It’s extremely worthwhile, sometimes very difficult and sometimes impossible.