Pathologist Deborah August discusses what she likes and what she would change about practicing medicine in Massachusetts.
If it were not for a job offer in North Adams, Mass., 20 years ago, pathologist Deborah August would never know the place even existed.
Fortunately, August, 55, discovered the western Massachusetts city and now works with another physician at Greylock Pathology Partners, located at a small local hospital.
For you, what is the best part of practicing medicine in the state of Massachusetts?
I came to Massachusetts because I went to college here [at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and I loved it. There are two different reasons I still call this state home. One is the philosophy of Massachusetts as a place that believes in equal rights for women, marriage equality, and taking care of the poor and the elderly. I feel good about being in a state that supports those values.
The other thing I love is the climate here - we have this beautiful, four-season climate and I love to do outdoor sports like hiking, skiing, and swimming. There's a great kindergarten through grade 12 educational system and some of the best colleges in the world are here. There is also easy access to cultural venues like theater, music, and art. I live in a lovely rural community [about an hour south of North Adams], but only a couple of hours away from Boston or New York City, so I have everything nearby. Plus we have the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, and the New England Revolution soccer team, so there's lots of great stuff in Massachusetts!
I work at a really small community hospital and I love that because you are really an essential part of the community. You are taking care of friends and neighbors. You are not anonymous. I like that. I don't mind that people know who I am - I think that is a good thing.
What, if anything, would you change about the climate for physicians in Massachusetts?
If I could change anything, I'd change the high cost of malpractice insurance here. Massachusetts is one of the more expensive states [for coverage].
And the governor [Deval Patrick]… although he owns a home in the town where I live, and he’s a terrific guy, he needs to be more supportive of physicians. He has no idea how hard I had to work to get to where I am, and how hard docs have to work in general. He also needs to recognize the differences between physicians and nonphysician providers - we‘re not interchangeable. I'd like to educate the governor to understand physician issues a lot better.
I'd like to see more legislation supporting physicians and see our legislators understanding physicians' needs better. I'd like to see the climate here in Massachusetts be more sympathetic to physicians. In Massachusetts - in all states - we need tort reform. We need to support physicians’ efforts to be treated fairly by third-party payers, including Medicare and Medicaid.
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