What Makes a "Best Doctor?"
In Their Own Words, SLU Doctors Define Their Guiding Values
The ways in which SLU doctors help their patients and make the world a better place are endless. Building hospitals for orphans in the Congo. Working to end disparities in medical care. Encouraging interfaith understanding. Bringing cookies to an elderly homebound patient. Testing life-saving drugs.
Each year, St. Louis Magazine recognizes the area's "Best Doctors" in a special issue. This year, SLUCare - the physician practice of Saint Louis University - had 157 doctors named to the list. SLUCare doctors balance treating patients, researching new treatments and training the next generation of physicians.
How do our busy doctors measure success? We asked this year's "Best Doctors" how they define excellence in the profession. We shared some of their thoughtful responses on the SLUHealth Facebook page this week. Their answers demonstrate compassion, dedication and selflessness, and we're proud that they're SLUCare doctors.
Listen to the reflections of six SLUCare "Best Doctors" and read many more below:
Eli Feen, M.D., neurology: "One of my inspiring medical school professors, Dr. Thomas Woodward, often quoted Dr. Francis Peabody's lecture to graduating medical students in 1925: ‘The secret of caring for the patient is caring for the patient.'"
Miguel Paniagua, M.D., geriatrics: "My father said the day you feel comfortable practicing is the day you should quit, as complacency leads to mistakes. We should always be students of the art and science of medicine."
Salvador Cruz-Flores, M.D., neurology: "A great physician should be caring, compassionate and competent but he or she should also be available and affable. A physician should care more for the person who suffers an illness than for the disease a patient has."
Bradley Davitt, M.D., ophthalmology: "The best doctors are those who physicians choose to send their family members to."
Bishnu Devkota, M.D., internal medicine: "Compassion, integrity and humility are the ideal characteristics of a physician. Physicians should always listen to their patients' concerns, involve them in their shared decision making processes and treat their patients the same way as they would want their loved ones or themselves treated. Above all, empathy is the ‘Holy Grail' of the profession and takes one to the highest road."
Donald Jacobs, M.D., vascular surgery: "How do you define excellence in the profession? Dedication and commitment to provide the most advanced care and the ability to effectively communicate in a compassionate way."
Terry Moore, M.D., rheumatology: "I would define excellence in the profession as being a physician who updates his knowledge daily and keeps abreast of all new findings, teaches medical students, residents, and fellows well, and is active in clinical, transitional, or basic research. A great doctor not only treats the whole patient medically, but is courteous and fully explains and answers a patient's questions."
John Eisenbeis, M.D., otolaryngology: "Always put the patient first. Think about how you would be feeling if you were the patient. What are your concerns as the patient and, as the doctor, believe and address every single one of those concerns. Worry about your patients. If you do, you won't stop trying to cure them until they are cured."
Julie Gammack, M.D., geriatrics: "A great physician puts the needs of the patient above his or her personal, financial, and professional aspirations....hears, not just listens to the patient, and fosters a caring and trusting therapeutic relationship."
Lisa Cannada, M.D., orthopaedic surgery: "My golden rule is ‘always treat the patients as if they are your family members.' Make sure you are available to answer questions and that they understand the answers."
Ali Mehdirad, M.D., cardiology: "Be familiar with the latest literature, apply it to patient care, love what you do, respect, communicate, listen, respond to your patients' concerns and always remember that your patient is number one on your list."
Dulce Cruz Oliver, M.D., geriatrics: "A good doctor is a person who will accompany a patient on his or her journey both while suffering and while enjoying life."
Bruce Bacon, M.D., hepatology: "I think it is a privilege to be able to care for patients and to have their trust. Important attributes are to be caring and compassionate, to listen to your patient's needs, to answer their questions honestly, realizing that they are often afraid of what is going on, and to provide careful follow up communicating with patients in language and terms that they can understand."
Ghazala Hayat, M.D., neurology: "I value being such an integral part of the lives of my patients, having their trust, trying my best to cure or alleviate their ailments and furthering the progress of medicine through research and education."
David Karges, M.D., orthopaedic surgery: "A ‘best doctor' is one who is removed of hubris, who avoids the comfort zone and who strives to continually educate patients, and self, about injury and disease."
Jeffrey Teckman, M.D., pediatrics: "When you respect the intellect, are comfortable with the manner, and sense the heart of compassion you know you've got a ‘Best Doctor.'"
Anthony J. Scalzo, M.D., pediatrics: "We take a sacred oath upon becoming physicians and should never lose sight of what is really important, the health of individual patients, their physical, emotional and spiritual needs and those of their family and loved ones. If one's compass heading is set on doing your very best to heal all of these aspects of human health, then you will achieve best practice and always do what is right for the patient."
Dee Anna Glaser, M.D., dermatology: "I believe that you should treat your patients in the same way that you would want your own family treated. If you have done that, you have done the best you possibly could!"
Bill Sasser, M.D., cardiothoracic surgery: "Be prepared to give your best, always. Sometimes it is hard to be happy, but it is never acceptable to be rude. Let the patient know that you are human.Tell them stories about your life and family. Laugh every now and then."
David Thomas, M.D., geriatrics: "Although a label conferred by peers, being a ‘Best Doctor' tends to rest in the back of one's mind as an incentive to rise to the level of expectations in the care of patients."
Caroline Rudnick, M.D., family medicine: "In the field of family medicine, a great physician is one who really listens to his or her patients and is thorough and diligent in their care."
Tim Rice, M.D., general internal medicine and pediatrics: "Great doctors are good communicators. They have the ability to listen to and understand their patient's concerns, and help them understand their condition. Great doctors care about their patients and people in need and are willing to help in anyway they can, whether the patient is sitting in their office or half a world away."SLUCare, the physician practice of Saint Louis University School of Medicine, is the only academic medical practice in St. Louis that is fully accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care Inc. This accreditation is a voluntary process through which the quality of SLUCare services and performance is measured against nationally recognized standards. To schedule an appointment, call 314-977-4440 or 1-866-977-4440. More information is available at www.slucare.edu.