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Dear editor. (Reader Feedback).

Among the "Letters to the Editor" in the November/December issue, Thomas Whalen, MD comments on the article entitled "The Evolving Role of the Physician Executive," (volume 25, issue # 5). He questions the exclusion of the MMM degree offered by the ACPE through Tulane University and Carnegie Mellon University. The Editor rightfully recognizes this oversight.

While I am loathe to escalate a "me too" mentality and discussion of a somewhat time-worn topic, I challenge the list of appropriate degree programs. Notably, two articles in the November/December issue (volume 25, issue # 6) by G. Stephen DeCherney, MD, MPH, and Charles M. Kilo, MD, MPH, demonstrate sound management information and are both written by physicians holding advanced degrees in public health.

The MPH degree is no longer one of the purely traditional epidemiologic, biostatistical, or environmental science genres. While these disciplines are important to a sophisticated understanding of health care, they also serve as a core for a broader and more intensive approach to health services quality and management. An example would be the Executive MPH program in the Division of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University.

Unquestionably, this "alphabet soup" of advanced medical management education is not about an admixture of letters to make a degree, but about serious curriculum content, study, and accountability. Physicians don't need an additional medical or advanced business degree, but one carefully integrating the best health-related and management principles. The good news is that this kind of medical management education is becoming increasingly accessible and valuable to us in the medical community.

Sincerely,

Joseph C. L Merola, MD, MPH

Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Medical Director, Women's & Children's Services St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network Bethlehem and Allentown, Pennsylvania merolaj@slhn.org.

Far-reaching possibilities

In Joe Flower's last column "Next!" (volume 26, issue # 1), he talked about an imminent physician who, in the course of a long career, had taught at a number of our most illustrious centers of medical research and written numerous articles in prestigious journals. He was interested in using new technologies to revolutionize the ways we deal with the flood of medical information that is coming our way--but his idea was not accepted by the medical community, despite its merit and far-reaching possibilities. I had read about Larry Weed, MD, over ten years ago, in relation to the problem-based medical record.

The combination of Joe's column and Dr. Weed's ideas for a Problem/Knowledge Coupler, (please see his website at www.pkc.com) blew my mind. Why do medical students and residents have to waste so much time memorizing information that will be out of date within five years? How can a practicing physician prevent the inevitable obsolescence of her knowledge without sacrificing her life outside of medicine? How can patients be properly educated about possible health care actions so that they can make informed choices? Is there a way that we can deliver better quality health care more cheaply?

Dr. Weed's ideas have the potential of addressing many of these questions. I, too, dreamed of making the latest medical information available to patients and providers via technology. But I chose the safer, well traveled road of private practice. Yet, I have been exploring the leadership call in my community and serve as the chair of our hospital's quality committee. Could ideas like these revolutionize our approach to health care? I get excited when I consider that possibility.

I enjoy "Next!" and am drawn to the opportunities that change brings.

Steven Baker, MD

Chief of Staff

Great Plains Regional Medical Center

North Platte, Nebraska

bakers@mail.gprme.com

Mostly fun chaos

Earl Washburn's article (volume 26, issue # 1) concerning the five American generations went a long way toward clarifying the stunning, but mostly fun chaos that occurs regularly in my household. The five of us in the immediate family represent four of the generations, with my mother as a member of the fifth (G.I.) generation making regular household visits from ten minutes away. Mix John Wayne, the Cleavers, the Bunkers, the cast of Friends with an Internet savvy teen and you have our family portrait. Thanks for verifying my sanity.

Susan Stevens

Physician MBA Program Director

University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

Stevens@coba.usf.edu
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Publication:Physician Executive
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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