Improve the health of the people of Wisconsin by supporting and strengthening physicians' ability to practice high-quality patient care in a changing environment.

Welcome to Doc to Doc

I’ve been the chief medical officer of the Wisconsin Medical Society for a year now, and I am hoping to use this new blog to reach out to physicians with topics of interest to me—and hopefully to you—regarding our profession.

For my first post, I wanted to talk about being a doctor. This weekend, I was on call. I’ve been a practicing neurologist in Eau Claire, Wis., for almost 23 years now, and taking call is a big part of what I do. I have been on call as frequently as every fourth night, and currently I’m on every fourth weekend—Friday through Monday morning. I think many of us find call to be an onerous task. It’s not always easy to have the pager restrict your movements and activities, but of course, it’s an important service we provide to our patients. The other day I got called in at 10 o’clock on Sunday night, and I found myself being just a little bit annoyed. I reminded myself on the drive to the hospital that having a pager was a goal I had sought with intense desire. My wish came true and I guess it helped me to remember how badly I wanted that pager.

As on-call weekends with stroke patients go, this one was fairly standard. A patient came in and it was fortunate he came in immediately after onset of stroke symptoms. He was a younger man, not much older than myself, and had weakness of his dominant hand, face and slurring of speech. In the old days, when I began my training, and in my first dozen or so years in Eau Claire, we had no good treatments for people with a stroke. Now we do have treatments, and this patient met the criteria for thrombolytic therapy. He received thrombolytic therapy at the two-hour mark and happily, had a very positive result with complete resolution of his symptoms. This morning, I am happy to say that he continues to do well, and it looks like he’s going to have a very nice, uneventful recovery.

That, of course is a very gratifying result. And it made me reflect a bit on what it means to be doctor. Yes, the hours are long.

The work is hard.

I think we are often under-appreciated by the general public.

It’s hard on our families.

And at times there’s some very frustrating paperwork and regulations that we have to deal with.

But I can’t imagine another profession where we get to be so intimately involved in patients’ lives and make a difference every single day. I’m very happy to be a physician, and I’m very proud of the work that I do. I’m very happy to be part of the Wisconsin Medical Society, representing physicians and the great work that you all do. That doesn’t mean that there’s not frustration or things we couldn’t improve upon to make our profession a better one, and I’ll continue to work on that. But, I just wanted to share with you my reflections after having been on call and the joy that I still have being a physician. I hope you do, too.

The Society is here to serve physicians. Our mission is to improve the health of the people of Wisconsin by enabling physicians to practice in an ever-changing environment. If there is ever anything I can do or the Society can do to help your practice, please feel free to reach out to me.

Once again, this is Dr. Donn Dexter, and this is the Doc to Doc blog. Thanks for joining me and have a great day.

Doctor Dexter, MD, a board-certified neurologist and sleep medicine specialist, is the Wisconsin Medical Society’s chief medical officer. He also serves as vice chief medical officer, Northwest Wisconsin Region, for Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, is an assistant professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and he continues to practice part-time. He received his medical degree from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., and he completed his residency and fellowship at the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education.

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