Category Archives: United States healthcare system

5 women physicians, multi-ethnic

Discover women physicians, the future of medicine

September is Women in Medicine Month.

Why celebrate women physicians?

In 1860 the United States had 200 women physicians.

By 1900, there were 7000.

Since 1975, the number of female physicians has grown more than six-fold, from 35,626 to 333,294 in 2013. Women physicians comprise 35% of actively practicing physicians. Follow this link for a detailed timeline of

A PROFILE & HISTORY OF WOMEN IN MEDICINE

Last year, for the first time since Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman  in the U.S. admitted to medical school in 1849, more women than men entered U.S. medical schools and approximately half of all medical students are now female. This trend will likely continue, as fewer men are applying to medical school and more women are.

My medical school graduating class of 1978  at our 30th reunion; the original class was larger, 150 students, but the percentage of women was the same as in this photo. (I’m in the pink dress)

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Why are more women entering medicine?

In general women still lag in entering the STEM fields– science, technology, engineering, math. But I think the most important factor spurring  more women to enter medicine is the powerful example set by previous women physicians who have paved the way for us who entered medicine later.

DISCOVER WOMEN PHYSICIANS-WWW.WATERCRESSWORDS.COM, EXPLORING THE HEART OF HEALTH

 

 

 

 

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman graduate of a United States medical school was born in Bristol England in 1821. (thank you, UK readers). Elizabeth Blackwell came to this country as a child and originally had no interest in medicine. But when a dying friend told her, “I would have been spared suffering if a woman had been my doctor”, she found her calling.

She was denied admission to multiple medical schools. The Geneva Medical College of New York submitted her application to the student body for a vote, and, as a joke, they voted to admit her. Well, the joke was on them as she enrolled, completed medical school and graduated in 1849.

Read more detail about How Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman doctor in the United States

With her sister, Emily Blackwell , who also  graduated from medical school, and a German physician, Marie Zakrzewska, they opened and ran the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857.

Dr. Emily Blackwell  managed the Infirmary for 40 years. Dr. Marie Zakrzewska moved to Boston when she founded the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which trained  women physicians and cared for the poor.

Due to failing health, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell retired from practice in the 1870s.

 

 

 

 

The Physicians Mom Group (PMG) declared Dr. Blackwell’s birthday February 3 as National Women Physicians Day. This day celebrates all the significant contributions that women physicians make daily, none of which would have been possible without Elizabeth Blackwell.

Dr. Blackwell embodied the ABC characteristics of extraordinary women physicians-

Attentive, Brave, Compassionate

Women physician members of CMDA providing medical care in Ecuador

Dr.Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Prior to founding her hospital, Dr.Zakrzewska served as professor at the New England Female Medical College. That school produced another notable women physician, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler.

Dr. Crumpler graduated in 1864, becoming the first African-American woman to earn the M.D. in the United States.  After practicing in Boston, she moved to Virginia where she and other black physicians cared for freed slaves, who otherwise would have had no access to medical care. In 1883 Dr. Crumpler wrote a book of medical advice for women and children, titled A Book of Medical Discourses, one of the earliest medical publications by an African American.

Dr. Virginia Apgar

More recently, a woman physician’s work has impacted the lives of countless babies and their families. If you have had a baby, or been born within the past 60 years, you benefited from the work of Virginia Apgar, M.D.

She was neither an obstetrician or a pediatrician, but an anesthesiologist. As she observed deliveries of infants she proposed a scale to rate how well a newborn was adapting to life outside the mother.

crying baby

courtesy Pixabay

She considered 5 factors:

  1. heart rate
  2. respiratory (breathing) rate,
  3. muscle tone,
  4. reflexes, and
  5. color-pink (warm) or blue(cold)

And assigned each a score- 0, 1, or 2, at 1 minute of age, and again at 5 minutes.

So a newborn had a potential score as low as 0 and as high as 10.

The higher the score, referred to as the Apgar score, the more likely the baby was healthy and would do well. The lower the score meant the baby was in trouble, and needed intensive medical attention.

After testing the use of the rating scale over several years, doctors starting using it routinely; so for the past 50-60 years almost all babies have been “graded” with an Apgar score at birth. The Apgar score  is used widely throughout the world.

Dr. Apgar, who played violin and cello in her college orchestra, was appointed the first full professor of medicine at Columbia University and also was a director for the March of Dimes.

Dr. Laurel Salton Clark

More recently, Dr. Laurel Clark served her country as a flight surgeon with the U.S. Navy. She along with her husband Dr. Jonathon Clark joined NASA as astronauts.

Clark made her first space flight on Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-107 as a mission specialist. The extended-duration mission was dedicated to scientific research. The STS-107 crew successfully conducted more than 80 experiments.

Independence, a space shuttle replica, on display at NASA in Houston, TX

The space shuttle replica Independence on display at Space Center Houston; photo by Raymond Oglesby during our visit to the center a few years ago

 

 

On February 1, 2003  Clark and the STS-107 crew perished during re-entry as Columbia broke up over Texas en route to a landing in Florida. She amassed 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes in space.

During a memorial service at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Feb. 4, 2003, President George W. Bush emphasized Clark’s love for her family and her work.

“Laurel Salton Clark was a physician and a flight surgeon who loved adventure, loved her work, loved her husband and her son,” he said.

“A friend who heard Laurel speaking to Mission Control said there was a smile in her voice. Laurel conducted some of the experiments as Columbia orbited the Earth and described seeing new life emerged from a tiny cocoon. ‘Life,’ she said, ‘continues in a lot of places and life is a magical thing.'”

 

 

 

In this emotional interview, Dr. Jonathon Clark remembers his wife, who “sacrificed her life for space research.”

Please see these related posts about women physicians who are Changing the Face of Medicine

The surprising new doctors caring for you

Today is Armed Forces Day

 

 

 

Thanks to the American Medical Association for this post’s featured image.

 

 

Thank you for joining me to celebrate women physicians. If you haven’t met me already, please visit my bio page here-

Meet Dr. Aletha 

Please continue to follow this blog as we explore

and share the HEART of health

stethoscope with a heart

 

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"I have a dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.

King, Obama, and Healthcare

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

First African-American President- Barack Obama

In 2008 Democratic candidate Barack Obama ran for President of the United States and won, becoming the 44th President  and the first African-American to win the office.

Former President Obama running with his dog

President Obama kept fit exercising with his dog- photo compliments Pixabay 

 

Candidate Obama  pledged to enact universal health care coverage for the country, a promise President Obama fulfilled with the support of a Democratic Congress. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.

 

 

First Universal Healthcare Coverage -“Obamacare”

The term “Obamacare” was first used by opponents, then embraced by supporters, and eventually used by President Obama himself. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system‘s most significant overhaul and expansion of coverage since  Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. (source Wikipedia) 

 

Is ObamaCare doomed?

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign platform included health care reform, a plan he labeled “repeal and replace” for Obamacare. Thus far, as of January 2018 , President Trump has not convinced Congress to abandon Obamacare, but it will change under the recently passed tax law which has abolished the individual mandate  requiring all persons to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Premiums are predicted to increase significantly, making it more difficult for people to afford coverage.

 

 African-American Health- Progress Made, More Needed

 

The death rate for African Americans dropped 25% from 1999-2015, but they are still more likely to die at a young age than white Americans.

African Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more likely to live with or die from conditions that typically occur at older ages in whites, including

  • heart disease,
  • stroke, and
  • diabetes.

African Americans ages 35-64 are 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure as whites.

African Americans ages 18 to 49 years are 2 times as likely to die from heart disease as whites.

Social and economic conditions, such as poverty, contribute to the gap in health differences between African Americans and whites.

 

Public health agencies and community organizations should work with other community resources , including

  • education,
  • business,
  • transportation, and
  • housing,

to create social and economic conditions that promote health at early ages.

Consumers can prevent disease and early death by

 

Dr. Ben Carson- “Gifted Hands”

Ben Carson, M.D., renowned neurosurgeon, also ran for President in 2016 , leaving the campaign during the Republican primary.

 

President Trump appointed him to his Cabinet where he serves as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

 

 

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Thanks for your time and interest.  Dr. Aletha 

 

Surprising lessons you will learn waiting at the ER

Vietnamese people with bicycles, standing outside a clinic

People waiting to enter a medical clinic in vietnam.

 

I have waited for medical care too, from both sides, as a patient and as a doctor. Physicians also wait-

  • for lab results
  • for xray and scan reports
  • for consultants to call or send evaluation findings
  • for insurance companies to pay claims
  • for prior authorizations for surgery and medications to be approved

 

We all have to wait and it usually isn’t by choice or pleasant.

clinicsign

People waiting at a medical clinic in Panama.

 

 

The Bible talks about waiting in this passage –

Isaiah 40:31, NKJV

But those who wait  on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

 

 

 

I think it’s easier to wait when you expect, hope and, trust that waiting will lead to a good outcome, your problem will be solved, your illness will be successfully treated, your pain eased, your sorrow resolved.

Sometimes waiting teaches us valuable lessons that we might otherwise not know.

group of people sitting under a tree

People waiting at a clinic in Zanzibar.

 

 

Please read this poignant post from Martin Wiles about how visits to  hospital emergency rooms changed his perspective on waiting.  It might change yours also.

Lessons from a Waiting Room  by Martin Wiles

 

“Waiting rooms have taught me life is unfair. When I see people who don’t have and can’t afford insurance. When I see people who’ve been abused by others or who’ve had crimes committed against them. And when I see people addicted to drugs who are making a visit to get a pain fix. Or when I see bodies mangled by wrecks.”

 

those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar like eagles Isaiah 40:31

Isaiah 40:31 graphic from the Lightstock.com collection

 

 

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sharing words of faith, hope, and love

(1 Corinthians 13:13)

 

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March 30 is Doctors' Day

Why women physicians are good for health care

As Women in Medicine Month concludes, let’s take another look at women physician pioneers. And remember- not all beautiful women are models; some are doctors.

By the most recent statistics published by  the Kaiser Family Foundation, 48% of United States medical school graduates  are women; in some states, over 50% are women. If that trend continues, eventually at least half of all practicing physicians in the United States will be women. Currently about one third are female.

My medical school graduating class at our 30th reunion; the original class was larger, 150 students, but the percentage of women was the same as in this photo. (I’m in the pink dress)

(This post contains commission earning affiliate links to help fund this blog)

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell

The first woman graduate of a United States medical school was born in Bristol England in 1821. (thank you, UK readers). Elizabeth Blackwellcame to this country as a child and originally had no interest in medicine. But when a dying friend told her, “I would have been spared suffering if a woman had been my doctor”, she found her calling.

She was denied admission to multiple medical schools. The Geneva Medical College of New York submitted her application to the student body for a vote, and, as a joke, they voted to admit her. Well, the joke was on them as she enrolled, completed medical school and graduated in 1849.

Read more detail about How Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman doctor in the United States

With her sister, Emily Blackwell , who also  graduated from medical school, and a German physician, Marie Zakrzewska, they opened and ran the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857.

Dr. Emily Blackwell  managed the Infirmary for 40 years. Dr. Marie Zakrzewska moved to Boston when she founded the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which trained  women physicians and cared for the poor.

Due to failing health, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell retired from practice in the 1870s.

The Physicians Mom Group (PMG) declared Dr. Blackwell’s birthday February 3 as National Women Physicians Day. This day celebrates all the significant contributions that women physicians make daily, none of which would have been possible without Elizabeth Blackwell.

Dr. Blackwell embodied the ABC characteristics of extraordinary women physicians-

Attentive, Brave, Compassionate

Women physician members of CMDA providing medical care in Ecuador

Dr.Rebecca Lee Crumpler

Prior to founding her hospital, Dr.Zakrzewska served as professor at the New England Female Medical College. That school produced another notable women physician, Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler.

Dr. Crumpler graduated in 1864, becoming the first African-American woman to earn the M.D. in the United States.  After practicing in Boston, she moved to Virginia where she and other black physicians cared for freed slaves, who otherwise would have had no access to medical care. In 1883 Dr. Crumpler wrote a book of medical advice for women and children, titled Book of Medical Discourses, one of the earliest medical publications by an African American.

Dr. Virginia Apgar

More recently, a woman physician’s work has impacted the lives of countless babies and their families. If you have had a baby, or been born within the past 60 years, you benefited from the work of Virginia Apgar, M.D.

She was neither an obstetrician or a pediatrician, but an anesthesiologist. As she observed deliveries of infants she proposed a scale to rate how well a newborn was adapting to life outside the mother.

crying baby

courtesy Pixabay

She considered 5 factors:

  1. heart rate
  2. respiratory (breathing) rate,
  3. muscle tone,
  4. reflexes, and
  5. color-pink (warm) or blue(cold)

And assigned each a score- 0, 1, or 2, at 1 minute of age, and again at 5 minutes.

So a newborn had a potential score as low as 0 and as high as 10.

The higher the score, referred to as the Apgar score, the more likely the baby was healthy and would do well. The lower the score meant the baby was in trouble, and needed intensive medical attention.

After testing the use of the rating scale over several years, doctors starting using it routinely; so for the past 50-60 years almost all babies have been “graded” with an Apgar score at birth. The Apgar score  is used widely throughout the world.

Dr. Apgar, who played violin and cello in her college orchestra, was appointed the first full professor of medicine at Columbia University and also was a director for the March of Dimes.

The National Library of Medicine profiles

these and many other women physicians at

 Changing the face of Medicine –

celebrating America’s women physicians.

 

Declaration of Independence and the American flag

Let’s celebrate Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health Care

Every year on July 4th we celebrate Independence Day- the day the original 13 American colonies established an independent country.

They subsequently established a government, military, educational system, highway system, public works, and a healthcare system.

We Americans may pride ourselves on not having “socialized” medicine or “national healthcare”, but we do have  a health care system that is a combination of public and private funding and administration. And even private healthcare must comply with a myriad of local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

 

I believe we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world  because of the people who work in healthcare- the people who devote years to education and training and who work tirelessly 365 days a year, 24 hours a day to make and keep us well.  Their commitment, compassion, dedication and competence benefits all of us and deserves our gratitude.

 

 

 

Statue of Liberty

Lady Liberty lifting her torch in New York harbor

 

According to recent statistics, the United States government accounts for-

40% of healthcare  spending

$1.3 trillion /year

Covering 100 million individuals

Through 4 federal agencies

Department of Health and Human Services 

Department of Defense

Veterans Administration

Department  of Homeland Security

(JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), June 21, 2016)

 

 

The  United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 to guarantee basic health insurance to all citizens.  President Trump vowed to “repeal and replace” this law and currently Congress is grappling with that task.

During the American Revolution the fledgling government extended health care benefits to the soldiers and veterans of that war; that system evolved into the current military health care system which covers service members and the Veterans’ Administration system for veterans.

a Veterans Administration clinic

a Veterans Administration clinic (photo by Dr. Aletha

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan

 

 

Two other government healthcare programs- Medicare and Medicaid are over 50 years old. 

Medicaid provides insurance coverage for adults and children who are unemployed or low income.  

Medicare covers disabled children and adults  and persons 65 years and older.

The numbers are rather staggering.

  • Together these programs cover at least 30% of Americans.
  • Together they comprise 25% of all federal spending.
  • Together they pay 40% of total U.S. health care spending.

An infographic from the Kaiser Family Foundation and JAMA explains this further.

 

 

You may not be eligible for either of these programs now, but chances are eventually you or someone close to you will.

  • Anyone can become disabled from a serious illness or freak accident.
  • You or your spouse may lose your job and your employer sponsored health insurance.
  • Your child may have a disability that will prevent them from working when they grow up.
  • We may all live long enough to qualify for Medicare on the basis of age alone.  Your parents or grandparents are near or already at Medicare age.
ELDERLY COUPLE -189282_1280

Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.

 

It’s important to understand how Medicare works, since it’s not automatic; even if you qualify, you need to sign up to be covered (with a few exceptions). The rules are summarized here. Or consider an easy to understand book here. 

 

Several government agencies regulate, monitor,  promote and/or support both public and private healthcare including-

 

Food and Drug Administration- FDA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- CDC

National Institutes of Health- NIH

Occupational Safety and Health administration-OSHA

Drug Enforcement Agency-DEA

 

 

medication capsules

The FDA regulates the development and sale of medications and medical devices and the DEA regulates dangerous and controlled drugs.

Congress enacted several important laws that  concern health care such as

The Affordable Care Act- ACA

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-HIPPA

Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act- EMTALA

Health Information Technology  for Economic and Clinical Health- HITECH

Americans with Disabilities Act-ADA

Family Medical Leave Act-FMLA

 

 

 

 

 

Liberty Bell -replica

replica of the Liberty Bell at Disney World, Florida

 

 

In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of the United States created a nation based on the “self-evident truths”  of  “Life ,Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” and to promote “Safety and Happiness” . 

In the Constitution they vowed to “promote the general Welfare” .

 

I wonder if they envisioned their new government would spend so much time and money providing and regulating health care –

most of which was not available or even imagined at that time? 

 

 

Let’s celebrate!

woman holding a sprakler

Let’s celebrate ! This photo and featured image from stock photo site- Lightstock.com (affiliate)

 

 

 

Comments welcome and encouraged! explore the HEART of health with me.

Dr. Aletha 

a woman in a red, white, and blue shirt

Me, a few years ago, showing my patriotic spirit by posing in red, white, and blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White House

How your health care may change under the new government

 

The United States voters have elected a new president and a new legislature, both Republican. Analysts expect major changes in policy and law after 8 years of Democratic control.

In a previous post, I outlined then- candidate Donald Trump’s proposals for health care reform, chief of which is repealing the Affordable Care Act (alternately known as the ACA or ObamaCare). Here is a link to that post for your review.

How your vote for president will affect your health care

 

book- TRUMP-THE AMERICA WE DESERVE

THE AMERICA WE DESERVE by Donald Trump 

 

Since his election, President-elect Trump says there are two features of the ACA he would like to see preserved-

  • Prohibition of insurance denial for pre-existing conditions
  • Covering young adults age 18-26 years old on their parents’ insurance plan

He confirmed this in an interview with Leslie Stahl on  November 13, 2016 which you can view here-

60 Minutes Interview : President-elect Donald Trump

 

Since he will need to work with Congress to achieve his proposals,  we should review the Republican party’s platform on health care.

While similar to the President-elect’s plan, it is broader in scope and more specific. Larry Levitt, MPP, reviewed both parties’ platforms in a recent issue of JAMA (September 6, 2016) , basing his review from the parties’ online platforms.

The Republican Platform includes:

  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act
  • Protect insurance discrimination for preexisting conditions as long as continuous coverage is maintained
  • Allow people to buy insurance across state lines
  • Make individually purchased health insurance tax deductible
  • Limit federal spending on Medicaid, allowing the states more leeway in administering the program through block grants
  • Changes to Medicare- providing people under 55 years with a traditional Medicare option or a premium support system of competing plans; raising the age of eligibility for Medicare.

 red, white and blue Republican elephant

In comparison, the Democratic Party proposes

  • Continue building on the ACA to achieve universal health care
  • Provide a “public option” plan and allow people over age 55 years to buy-in to Medicare
  • Make premiums more affordable and reduce out-of-pocket costs to patients
  • Cap out-of-pocket monthly drug costs
  • Permit importation of lower-priced drugs from other countries
  • Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers
  • Expand funding for community health centers

 

red, white and blue Democratic donkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Levitt is Senior Vice President for Special Initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation and Co-Executive Director of the Kaiser Initiative on Health Reform and Private Insurance. He summarizes his review  this way-

“The ACA has increased insurance coverage by 20 million people and is now the status quo in our health care system. Fully repealing it would be very disruptive.

At the same time, the public remains divided on the law, so building on it will also be controversial.”

 

You can read his full review and  analysis here-

The Partisan Divide on Health Care

 

Follow this blog here and on Facebook for more updates on what will happen to our health care under a new administration. Feel free to share your opinions, ideas, and experiences here- thoughtful, considerate, and helpful comments are always welcome.

the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

From the O.R. to the Oval Office- 3 Docs Who Ran- part 2

(This post contains commission earning affiliate links at no extra costs to the buyer)

Yesterday I told you about Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party candidate for President. You can read part 1 here.

Today, 2 more physician candidates  from the Republican party.

Randall “Rand” Paul, M.D., Republican party candidate

Dr. Rand Paul, ophthalmologist, ran for President as a Republican candidate.

He suspended his campaign.

Some notes about Dr. Paul.

  1. Dr. Paul graduated from Duke University Medical School.
  2. He was elected Senator from Kentucky in 2010.
  3. He is married, has 3 children, and coached his children in Little League baseball, soccer and basketball.
  4. His father Dr. Ron Paul is an obstetrician/gynecologist, has served in the House of Representatives, and also ran for President.
  5. He has served as President of the Lions Club International .
  6. He provides eye surgery free of charge to people unable to pay in his home state of Kentucky.
  7. He has travelled around the world as a volunteer eye surgeon, providing care to people unable to pay; a recent trip was to Guatemala. He has received awards for his humanitarian work.
  8. Dr. Paul has written books, including Our Presidents & Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America’s Leaders 

a vision refractor

An ophthalmologist is a physician (doctor of medicine, MD, or doctor of osteopathy, DO) who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and visual system and in the prevention of eye disease and injury.

Benjamin Carson, M.D., Republican party candidate 

Dr. Carson , a neurosurgeon, was one of the candidates for the Republican nomination.

He has suspended his campaign.

These notes about Dr. Carson are taken from his 1992 autobiography

 

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story which I recently read and enjoyed.

  1. Dr. Carson’s mother, Sonya, one of 24 children,  married at age 13 ;her husband abandoned her when Dr. Carson and his brother were young boys. An uneducated illiterate woman, she taught herself to read, and required her sons to read books weekly.
  2. While he was growing up, his family depended on food stamps to have enough to eat.
  3. At age 8, after hearing a missionary doctor speak at his church, he decided to become a physician.
  4. He had such poor vision, he was almost legally blind. His grades improved when he started wearing glasses.
  5. As a teenager, he had such a quick and fiery temper, her feared he might kill someone.
  6. Both he and his brother were in JROTC while in high school; his brother served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
  7. In high school he played clarinet and developed a love of classical music, something he would share with his future wife Candy.
  8. He chose to attend Yale over Harvard, because Yale beat Harvard in the GE College Bowl television program.
  9. During college he worked at the Ford Auto plant and at Chrysler.
  10. He and Candy lived in Australia for one year so he could train in neurosurgery there- and his first child was born in Australia that year.
  11. His third child was born at home- and he did the unplanned, quick delivery while his mother dialed 911 for help.

 

Neurosurgery is the surgical specialty that deals with the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Long before Dr. Carson became involved in politics, he was known for his pioneering work in brain surgery. He discusses this work in his autobiography, which was also made into a movie of the same name. In the movie, one of my favorite actors, Cuba Gooding Jr., played Dr. Carson.

Dr. Carson specialized in two difficult and dangerous types of surgeries.

In hemispherectomy  half of the brain is surgically removed as a treatment for severe, intractable seizures. It is only used as a last resort, is not always successful and can cause paralysis on one side of the body. Dr.Carson was known as an expert in this surgery.

Conjoined or Siamese twins joined at the head are rare, occurring in 1 in 2 million births.

“In 1987, Carson attracted international attention by performing a surgery to separate 7-month-old occipital craniopagus twins in Germany.

Patrick and Benjamin Binder were born joined at the head. Their parents contacted Carson, who went to Germany to consult with the family and the boys’ doctors. Because the boys were joined at the back of the head, and because they had separate brains, he felt the operation could be performed successfully.

On September 4, 1987, after months of rehearsals, Carson and a huge team of doctors, nurses and support staff joined forces for what would be a 22-hour procedure. Part of the challenge in radical neurosurgery is to prevent severe bleeding and trauma to the patients.

In the highly complex operation, Carson had applied both hypothermic and circulatory arrest. Although the twins did suffer some brain damage and post-operation bleeding, both survived the separation, allowing Carson’s surgery to be considered by the medical establishment the first successful procedure of its kind.”(from Ben Carson bio)