What distinguishes clinical physicians from medical researchers is, ultimately, interest in patients. “I love patient care,” Judelson says. “Very often patients don’t have a clue what’s wrong, but if you let them talk awhile, you can really help them–not just with a particular ailment, but with how they manage their personal health. It makes practicing medicine an art as well as a science.”
While only about 2,000 alumni specify health-care services as their industry in the Online Alumni Directory, their contributions are notable. Judelson’s breakthrough work raised awareness that led to a nationwide revision of the protocols for treating women with heart problems. Richard Berger ‘85, an orthopedic surgeon in Chicago, pioneered minimally invasive hip and knee replacement that allows patients to recover faster and with less pain. Orthopedic specialist Bob Satcher ‘86, PhD ‘93, will study the effects of bone and muscle degeneration in space as a NASA astronaut on a 2009 mission. Jerry Waye ‘54, a New York-based gastroenterologist, is a world leader in endoscopic colonoscopy techniques. Cato Laurencin, PhD ‘87, a nationally prominent orthopedic surgeon, is dean of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Dermatologist Stephen Tang, SM ‘69, EE ‘70, was drawn to medicine through his volunteer work cofounding a community health center serving Boston’s Chinatown.
Caring for Patients
Many alumni, such as Roger Mark ‘60, PhD ‘66, combine teaching, research, and patient care. At MIT, Mark is a professor of health sciences and technology and electrical engineering, the founding director of the Biomedical Engineering Center for Clinical Instrumentation, and housemaster at the Sidney Pacific graduate residence. Outside MIT, he is a practicing physician. When he returned to Boston after a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he wanted to apply emerging telemedicine practices to a local population in need of better medical care. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, he set up a nursing-home telemedicine practice, working with nurse practitioners who consulted with doctors by telephone about treatment options–thus saving needless trips to emergency rooms while improving critical care. Building on this success, he founded the Urban Medical Group, a Boston-based nonprofit focused on elderly, chronically ill, and underserved patients, where he continues to provide clinical care.
“When I was a sophomore, I decided that I wanted to spend at least part of my time taking care of sick people,” says Mark. “I wanted to do it because it was a way of serving my fellow humans. In the one-to-one experience of trying to help somebody–help them to get better or help them to die–you are doing your best to be of service to that patient. I find that very rewarding.”