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Editor in Chief



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Editor in Chief

We are not makers of history. We are made by history

Editor-In-Chief, Chester “Trip” Buckenmaier III, MD, COL (ret.), MC, USA — The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) I find this quote by Dr. King particularly poignant as I reflect back on my own career... View Article

Editor in Chief

Apology is Only Egotism Wrong Side Out

—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) Despite our best efforts, bad things often happen to good people in medicine. Healthcare professionals are human and prone to error, as much as they would like to deny that... View Article

December 2017

Mission First, Soldiers Always!

~Anonymous This past October, I served as a staff platoon team leader for the annual Uniformed Services University (USU) Bushmaster exercise, which I have discussed in previous editorials.1 The training exercise is for senior nursing... View Article

Editor in Chief

You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work?

“You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? – Medicine.” ~Tim Minchin *Editor’s note: This month’s editorial was co-written by retired Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker. A recent announcement of a very... View Article

Editor in Chief

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do…

Pam, our friends Karon and Toni, and I had been looking forward to a week sailing our Gemini 105Mc catamaran, Family Knot, exploring the Chesapeake Bay.

Editor in Chief

From the Editor in Chief

“The current approach to the opioid epidemic is just as ineffective as managing a cholera outbreak by treating victims without ever bothering to find the source of contaminated water and provide access to safe alternatives.”... View Article

August 2017

“Take time for all things: Great haste makes great waste.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Following the news on the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, euphemistically known as Obamacare, is akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Editor in Chief

Money can’t buy life

My wife, Pam, and I recently celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. For our celebration, we decided to give each other a trip to Las Vegas.

Editor in Chief

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” ― Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

I have spent the past week in a series of meetings hosted by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide a public forum to discuss the national response to the ongoing opioid epidemic. I was serving as the Uniformed Services University and Department of Defense representative on this issue.

Editor in Chief

To the Editor-in-Chief:

In reference to “How Low To Go: The Continuing Controversy on BP Targets” published in the March 2017 issue:

Editor in Chief

My Life Needs Editing

My commute to work in the Washington, DC, area is hell, to put it mildly. According to U.S. News and World Report, in 2015, Washington area drivers spent 75 hours on average in traffic, second only to Los Angeles drivers who averaged 81.

April 2017

“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.” —George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

This past week, I attended the Uniformed Services Academy of Family Physicians (USAFP) annual meeting in Seattle.

Editor in Chief

You are confined only by the walls you build yourself

The free, efficient and unobstructed flow of information is critical both in business and medicine.

Editor in Chief

“A living dog is better than a dead lion.” – Ecclesiastes 9:4

For many, including myself, the political upheaval that has characterized the 2016 campaign and election has been unsettling.

Editor in Chief

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” —Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

I recently took in the movie “Hacksaw Ridge” with my wife. Starring Andrew Garfield and directed by Mel Gibson, the movie dramatizes the heroics of Cpl. Desmond Thomas Doss (1919-2006), who served as a combat medic with the 77th Infantry Division in the Pacific theater of World War II, despite being a conscientious objector who refused to carry a weapon in combat.

December 2016

“The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.” Hippocrates (c. 460- c. 370 BC)

The classical Greek physician Hippocrates is considered the father of modern medicine and is credited for believing that disease was caused naturally and not due to supernatural forces or the gods. With this idea, medicine as a body of knowledge began its journey into the realm of science and the scientific method to drive medical understanding and therapeutic practice.

Editor in Chief

Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word

After seven months of bickering and posturing by both parties in Congress, a bill allocating $1.1 billion to deal with the emerging Zika crisis was finally passed on Sept. 28, 2016.

Editor in Chief

“Every positive value has its price in negative terms … the genius of Einstein leads to Hiroshima.” — Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

One of the interesting aspects of writing this federal medicine column is friends, colleagues and readers who follow U.S. Medicine editorials feed me interesting unsolicited ideas for writing topics.

Editor in Chief

Individual commitment to a group effort

The Maryland Governor’s Cup Yacht Race is the oldest and longest distance overnight sailing race in Maryland. This year marked the 43rd running of the race, traditionally held over the first weekend of August.

August 2016

It is curious that physical courage should be so common…

Like many Americans, I find the nightly news of late has been increasingly less palatable and more disturbing.

Editor in Chief

Humor is everywhere in that there’s irony in just about anything a human does.

Recently I was viewing a rather emotional national news piece showing a preteen girl learning how to administer naloxone.

Editor in Chief

You recruit the soldier, but retain the family

Recently my youngest daughter turned 18, and — for the first time in 22 years — my wife Pam and I were suddenly not responsible for any children.

Editor in Chief

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.

Sadly, like most Americans, O’Rourke’s humorous quote concerning death is representative of the lack of attention most folks pay this unavoidable destination we all eventually must face.

April 2016

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile

For some time now, I have had the privilege of expressing my opinions on federal medicine within U.S. Medicine as the editor-in-chief.

Editor in Chief

Life Moves Pretty Fast

If you don’t stop and look once in a while, you could miss it.” — Ferris Beuller.
I have commented numerous times within this column on the daily stressors that federal medicine providers face within our large health system.

Editor in Chief

Clearly there are always unintended consequences

...of any legislative or regulatory act that’s taken in the heat of battle.” Richard “Dick” Grasso was chairman and chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange from 1995 to 2003 and is credited for his efforts to restart the Exchange following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Editor in Chief

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

Like too many Americans, I eat too much. If eating were a professional sport, I would be considered an accomplished athlete with an impressive career.

December 2015

Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”               — Tom PetersI have been ruminating for the past few months over the bureaucracy of federal medicine and the importance of selfless service to... View Article

Editor in Chief

There is no higher religion than human service

To work for the common good is the greatest creed. — Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) Government service can be extremely trying at times. Last month, I touched on the difficulties of surviving the bureaucracy to which we submit ourselves each week in the care of our servicemembers and their families.

Editor in Chief

These walls are funny

Occasionally, there is a movie that just seems to resonate with many groups and situations. The 1994 movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” directed by Frank Darabout was certainly one of those movies. It was, and remains, common for myself and work colleagues to refer to being “Shawshanked” whenever we are confronted with laborious federal bureaucratic rules that are ubiquitously enforced with little apparent forethought or purpose.

Editor in Chief

Doctors are Human Animals

They want to be loved, they are tribal, they instinctually favor stories over scientific evidence, they make mistakes, and even small gifts make them susceptible to being biased. If we took doctors seriously as human animals, we might hurt them — and they might hurt us - a lot less.

August 2015

Life’s hard. It’s even harder when you’re stupid

A friend and colleague recently used John Wayne’s quote after bringing a recent malpractice suit to my attention. The case involved an anesthesiologist, gastroenterologist and a medical assistant in Vienna, VA, who were involved in the care of a patient presenting for a screening colonoscopy.

Editor in Chief

Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life

Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living — if you do it well... View Article

Editor in Chief

In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence

“In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.” —... View Article

April 2015

I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won’t.

“I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won’t.” (Mark Twain – 1835-1910)             It is with some dismay that I have watched the... View Article

Editor in Chief

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  – Helen Keller (1880 – 1968) I have never been one much impressed by celebrity.  During my years haunting the halls of Walter Reed Army Medical Center... View Article

Editor in Chief

If the epidemic continues its mathematical rate of acceleration, civilization could easily disappear from the face of the earth within a few weeks.

“If the epidemic continues its mathematical rate of acceleration, civilization could easily disappear from the face of the earth within a few weeks.” Victor Vaughan (1851-1929) Victor Vaughan was the surgeon general of the Army... View Article

December 2014

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.

We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them. Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) I had the honor of being invited recently to speak at the 39th annual Garland Lecture series at the Boston Medical... View Article

Editor in Chief

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” — Thomas ‘Vince’ Lombardi (1913-1970) On Nov. 30, 2014 at midnight, I will pass on to the retirement rolls of the United States Army after... View Article

Editor in Chief

To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” — George Washington (1732-1799) In 2009, I was deployed as an anesthesiologist to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, with the British combat... View Article

Editor in Chief

Medicine is not a science; it is empiricism founded on a network of blunders.

“Medicine is not a science; it is empiricism founded on a network of blunders.”

August 2014

Don’t look where you don’t want to go.

‘Don’t look where you don’t want to go.’ — Author Unknown In my life adventure as a father of three daughters, I have never faced anything as frightening and dangerous in their development into young... View Article

Editor in Chief

Doveryai, no proveryai – Trust, but verify

“Doveryai, no proveryai.” (Trust, but verify) – President Ronald Reagan The quote, “trust, but verify,” is actually an old Russian proverb that President Ronald Reagan used during arms control negotiations with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev... View Article

2014 Issues

A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” Gen. George S. Patton (1885-1945) I recently turned 50 years old and celebrated my birthday while on an annual field exercise,... View Article

2014 Issues

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ― Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) I do my best to avoid touching on editorial themes I find interesting in subsequent months. Last month, I touched on the incursion of medical... View Article

April 2014

In the sick room, 10 cents worth of human understanding equals 10 dollars worth of medical science

“In the sick room, 10 cents’ worth of human understanding equals 10 dollars’ worth of medical science.” — Martin H. Fisher, MD (1879-1962) It is a particular pleasure in federal medicine to have an opportunity... View Article

2014 Issues

If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine

“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” — Jim Barksdale, former Netscape CEO Sheepishly, I find myself enjoying this quote a little too much. My... View Article

2014 Issues

Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda…

“‎Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” ― Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) I am presently reading “Thomas Jefferson – The... View Article

2014 Issues

Great services are not canceled by one act or by one single error

“Great services are not canceled by one act or by one single error.” — Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) Benjamin Disraeli was a British conservative politician who knew a thing or two about politics, serving twice as... View Article

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