12/12/13 meeting: So You Want To Be A Doctor

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (13): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Jim Leyhane, Dick Drumm, Terry Brewer, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaras, Len Leonidas, Rommel Tolentino, Stewart Wagner. (2 reservations were no-shows.)

Guests (4): Maggie Forth, Jeremy Forth, Lynn Cross, Ted Cross.

Program: So You Want To Be A Doctor

Despite the doctor outfit his mom made him, Rommel didn't always want to be a doctor.
Despite the doctor’s outfit his mom made him, Rommel says he didn’t always want to be a doctor.

Our own Dr. Rommel Tolentino led us through the long path that must be traveled to become a licensed physician in New York.

Rommel, who graduated from the University of Buffalo’s medical college, said he did not always want to be a doctor, assuming his interest in biology and chemistry might lead him into research. However, he stayed the course and graduated from UB in 2000.

The formal education of an aspiring physician can last as long as 20 years, he noted, depending on the specialty into which one goes. However, the huge cost of medical school and the relatively low pay during internships and residency is a catalyst in many doctors looking for a position earlier than others. Rommel said the average medical school graduate starts out $175,000 in debt.

Rommel, who in the past has treated us to medical history presentations, explained that until the late 1800s anyone could hang out a shingle and call himself or herself a doctor. The idea of formal education was helped along by the efforts of Sir William Osler, a Canadian physician who decided learning medicine should be more than classroom work. Osler, who went on to head the medical programs at Johns Hopkins and then Harvard, created what may have been the first residency program, so-called because new doctors actually lived in hospital facilities and learned their art on the premises.

“Did you ever wonder why doctors wear white coats?” Rommel asked. It turns out that in an effort to be taken more seriously as their skills and training improved, doctors began wearing the coats to emulate the garb of laboratory scientists who were well respected. “The longer the coat, the more experienced the doctor in most facilities” he said;  i.e., interns wear short coats, full-fledged doctors the longer style.

He also explained the various levels of classroom and clinical training, the required certifications and examinations that need to be passed, and the continuing education and board re-certification necessary on an ongoing basis, then answered numerous questions.


Lynn Cross with her SAFE shirt.
Lynn Cross with her SAFE shirt.

• Lynn Cross of the Little Brook Farm equine rescue and education facility in Old Chatham gave the group an update on her activities since the club awarded her a $2,500 grant last year. Among them: Lobbying at the State Capital on behalf of the SAFE (Safeguard American Food Exports) legislation that would prevent the slaughter of horses as a human food source; continuing to work with school children for equestrian therapy and other learning experiences, and expansion of facilities for feral and abandoned cats. Lynn said school budget reductions have hampered her instructional efforts because transportation for field trips has been widely curtailed. President April asked her to submit a list of needs so the club’s board can discuss them with an eye toward potential grants.

• Communications have been received from ShelterBoxUSA for the club’s $10,000 donation to assist with relief work in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, and from the Nassau Public Library for a $200 donation.

• Murray reported that “Bowl Over Polio” flyers designed by Bill Dowd are available for our January fundraiser, and asked members to take copies to be posted at their places of business or anywhere else they could be placed.

• Bill reported that three food pantries have been selected to receive donations from our “Cans In a Box” drive, which was supported by both the East Greenbush YMCA and East Greenbush Public Library. They are The Anchor in Castleton, CEO in Troy and New Hope for Life Ministries in Nassau.

• Scheduling: A reminder to make reservations for the December 19 holiday party being hosted by the Browns at their Castleton residence. Also, that there will be no meeting Christmas week. We will resume weekly meetings on January 2 with a program from the District 7190 Gift of Life.


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