I am very happy to introduce Dr. Frederic A. Mendelsohn author of A Doctor's Journey to all of you!
SD: Was there a specific moment or incident that prompted you to write this book?
Dr. M: I have been collecting stories and anecdotes for most of my professional career but it has been in the past 2-3 years that I decided to polish some of the stories for possible publication. I can not recall any seminal moment that prompted me to advance in this way but I think that my re-reading some of the work of Lewis Thomas may have been the impetus that spurred me to write and re-write these stories.
SD: How did you decide which stories would be included?
Dr. M: Deciding what stories to include was difficult. Frankly I was concerned that a patient or colleague might read and subsequently recognize themselves and become offended. To include or exclude a story depended on several factors. For example, the cover of the book was designed by a young man who because of a tragic accident, became my patient at age three. His story is inspiring and quite emotional. I decided not to include it in the book because over the years, I have become best friends with his parents and I felt that revealing his story was much too personal.
SD: Did you ever consider writing a complete fictional novel based on any of your experiences?
Dr. M: I would love to write a fictional story based on my experience ala Robin Cook, but thus far have yet to invent a believable, compelling plot line.
SD: Of all the patients you’ve treated over the years, is there one in particular that helped you become a better doctor?
Dr. M: I think that it has been a cumulative effect. Certainly seeing many patients increases a doctors diagnostic acumen by virtue of exposure to more disease states. In addition there is something to be said for repetition.
SD: Your love and appreciation of music is very evident. What are your thoughts on music therapy? Do you think that it would be a beneficial part of a treatment plan under certain circumstances?
Dr.M: I think that music therapy is a wonderful addition as a treatment modality for many disease states. I was a co-founder of a school for special needs children and have served on its board since its inception over 20 years ago. We employ a number of Music Therapists and find their input extremely valuable.
SD: Do you still play the French horn?
Dr. M: Unfortunately, I have been unable to play the French horn since throat surgery 20 years ago. Now I play CD’s! I have turned to painting and writing to assuage my creative yearnings.
SD: Do you think your musical roots influenced your decision to go into neurology, as opposed to other fields of medicine?
Dr. M: I do not think that my love of music influenced my choice of neurology as a specialty. I was simply fascinated by the problem solving, cognitive aspect of neurological diagnosis.
SD: Of your three sons are any musically inclined? Do any of them practice medicine?
Dr. M: All three of my sons play multiple instruments. While none gravitated to the horn, all play piano and guitar. None of them are physicians. One sells AFLAC, another is a financial advisor and the third designs and manufactures eyewear under his own company label, KBL Eyewear.
SD: Do you have any regrets about choosing medicine over music? Or do you feel as though your choice was the perfect marriage between the two?
Dr. M: Over the years I have come to grips with the fact that I have made the correct choice. While I feel that I would have become and adequate musician, I know that I am a much better neurologist than a musician. In addition, the practice of neurology has given me the opportunity to help a great number of patients over the years and that in itself is extremely gratifying.
SD: Since you’re a musician and an artist, which brings you the most peace, when you’re not practicing medicine?
Dr. M: I absolutely love painting. It is the only activity that I participate in that allows me to feel completely alive yet blissfully calm. Even when I was performing music, I felt very much alive but not always calm. Painting like writing is like Zen for me.
A Doctor's Journey: A Collection of Memoirs is available in paperback, hardback and ebooks, wherever books are sold.
Read my review.