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What I've Learned in 30 Years of Medicine [Dr. Wilder Interview]

Happy Anniversary to our very own Dr. Susan Wilder - who is celebrating 30 years practicing medicine! Fifteen of those years have been with LifeScape Premier, since she founded the practice after her time with Mayo. During her time in practice she has learned a great deal about health, medicine, the medical industry, and life. Here she shares her history, what she's learned about medicine, and what she thinks patients deserve in the next 30 years.

"I graduated from GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences 30 years ago, when gas cost under a dollar a gallon, a new home averaged under $95K & US per capita annual health expenditure was under $2000. A few of us owned the very first Macintosh computers or bulky brick cell phones while health information technology was just dawning.

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Prozac had just launched as the pharmaceutical industry unleashed the power of marketing. Ensuing decades saw our therapeutic options expand from a few hundred to over 6000 today while the number of Americans on >3 prescriptions ballooned by 40%. We excelled at rescue, saving some with cancer or opening blocked arteries, yet people were NOT getting healthier. We saw more chronic disease afflict younger patients (including children) including obesity, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, addiction, autism, attention deficit, depression and anxiety from multiple root causes – nutrient poor diets, sedentary lifestyles, sleep sabotage, stress, and environmental toxins to name a few.

Despite more sub-specialists, an exponential increase in diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, accompanied by accelerated health spending (far outpacing inflation to over $10K/capita), our collective life expectancy advanced anemically relative to that of other developed nations while our aging population grew more frail and disabled.

In the past few years, we’ve witnessed the first ever decline in US life expectancy, due mainly to shameful maternal/fetal health stats, rising rates of suicide, homicide, gun violence, opioid overdose, and chronic disease related to obesity and diabetes (diabesity). So despite incredible advances, including laparoscopic & robotic surgery, immunotherapy, genomics & crispr therapy, infertility treatments, etc. Americans continue to endure the worst return on our healthcare investment in the developed world

To simplify, here are my general observations from 30 years in medicine:

  • The more we learn, the more we realize how little we know
  • Today’s dogma is tomorrow’s dog you-know-what
  • “IT” & “EMRs” are 4-letter words
  • Medicine keeps you humble…and if it doesn’t, you’d better retire
  • We cannot deliver patient-centered care in institution-centered systems
  • MORE is NOT better – medications, interventions, screening, administrative complexity
  • Out of intense complexity, intense simplicity emerges
  • Answers to healthy longevity do NOT reside in a bottle
  • Prescribing a pill for an ill disables patient’s healing power while enabling dependence
  • Health cannot be delegated to doctors, insurers, hospitals, employers, or the government
  • Responsibility for our health depends on us, WE THE PEOPLE, and our lifestyle choices
  • Never cease to be amazed by the power of the human spirit

I pray, in the next 30 years, we, as doctors, do the following for patients:

  • Learn to value and invest in long-term proactive, preventive care, not just rescue
  • Shift to truly patient-centered methods of storing clinically useful medical information
  • See toxic chemotherapy relegated to the scrap heap of interventions no longer useful
  • Disrupt costly medical industrial complex with free market, direct-to-consumer services
  • Enact common sense measures to protect science from corporate & political coercion
  • Eliminate the term “manage chronic disease” by preventing and reversing it
  • Witness a groundswell of personal stewardship for this incredible gift we call health

Looking to benefit from a practice started by a woman with 30 years of medicine under her belt? Click to book a consult today and see how becoming a patient at LifeScape Premier could change your whole health for your whole life.

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