Going in to this interview, I was not certain what to expect at all. I had prepared a few questions and anticipated it lasting maybe ten to fifteen minutes at the most. However, my mental image of the interview did not remotely match up to what actually occurred. My interviewee was Dr. Hal B. Woodall, a medical doctor who owns Kenly Medical Associates, his private practice, but also comes in to the Wilson Medical Center to closely follow along with his patients, although he is not employed by, paid, or charged by the hospital for his services there.
He has owned this practice and followed this routine for the past 38 years, ever since he completed his residency and internship at what is now known as Virginia Commonwealth University’s medical center. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for his undergraduate degree in pharmacy, but made the transition to medical school at Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University and ultimately ended up practicing internal medicine, which he has practiced for his entire career.
My mom works as a Care Coordinator and WilMed, and was able to put me in contact with Dr. Woodall, who was so gracious to take so much time out of his busy day to sit down and meet with me. We spent around 45 minutes interviewing, chatting, and sharing a relaxing and learning moment for us both in the library there at WilMed.
My interview largely consisted of my asking him about his interaction with doctors of osteopathy (DOs as compared to medical doctors, which he is), as well as his what difference he could see between MDs, like himself, and DOs, his opinions about the future of medicine and doctors, and even what advice he would have for me as a rising sophomore in college who is looking to attend medical school in a few years. I chose to interview Dr. Woodall because he is about as much of an expert as one can be in the field of medical careers.
He was perfectly knowledgeable of the current health care system, as well as the direction it is anticipated to take in the next ten to fifteen years. My primary research topic for the semester is exploring whether or not there is a practical difference between medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy. This difference could be exemplified in any number of ways, such as patient care, respect from other doctors and hospital employees, career success and advancement, and even ideology in their practices. This practically ranslates over into my future career, as I will in the next couple of years be deciding whether to attend a medical school or a school of osteopathic medicine. To preface our interview, Dr. Woodall as the first professional with whom I have spoken regarding this issue. My only prior research was online on websites and articles attempting to decipher a difference between DOs and MDs. What Dr. Woodall had to say surprised me and his comments were definitely helpful in writing this research paper as well as thinking about my future career.
I began the interview by asking him about his personal background. I wanted to explore his motivations for becoming a doctor, much less a medical doctor in the first place. What he had to say did not take me by surprise in the slightest. Something that I was not totally aware of, and I doubt many people of my younger generation are knowledgeable of either, is the fact that politics and business have played an increasingly intervening role in the field of medicine and had quite a profound effect on it, even in the past decade.
Dr. Woodall explained this evolution over time in the context of his desire to become a doctor. As he was growing up, during the fifties and sixties, medical doctors were held in the highest regard as some of the most learned, respected, and refined individuals in the country. Today, according to Dr. Woodall, the political intervention from Medicare and governmental medical programs, as well as the intervention of the business aspect from insurance companies, has tarnished that image (Woodall). But at the time he was deciding to be a doctor, none of that was an issue.
This image of being highly esteemed and salaried was certainly appealing to Dr. Woodall, and he jumped on the opportunity. He also stated that another important factor that led to his desire to be a doctor was the passion that he had for people (Woodall). He loved working with others, and even went so far as to state that some of his most petulant and ill-mannered patients ended up being some of his favorites over the years. After learning more about Dr. Woodall’s background and getting to know him a little bit, I began to direct my questions more towards the MD/DO debate.
I first asked him if he had ever considered attending a school of osteopathic medicine rather than a traditional medical school. Evidently, the thought had never even crossed his mind, simply because DO schools hardly existed at the time (Woodall)! Perhaps that most important piece of information that he told me regarding osteopathic doctors with whom he has worked is that “patients and or other colleagues will not know the difference” (Woodall) between them and medical doctors!
I found this to be an extraordinary claim, but he went on to say that he personally has worked with DOs whom he assumed to be MDs while working with them until ex post facto when he happened to learn more about them and their backgrounds. I think that this singular claim largely answers a good portion of my question about the issue. Indeed, I had to later skip over several of my later questions, because as I prodded him about this more later, he kept stating that he could find no tangible difference between the two (Woodall)!
After I had learned more about his knowledge of DOs, I turned the questions geared more towards my future career so I could get his expert opinion or advice he may have on several suggestions. Based on his prior experience working with DOs, he strongly recommended looking into osteopathic medical schools just as much or even more than medical schools, as they often can be easier to get into because there are quite fewer candidates. Another excellent piece of advice that he offered me ultimately was unrelated to my question of DOs and MDs.
It was about my life as a student. I think that this advice is not only applicable to me as a medical student, but also every other college student, whether in his or her undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate stage of education. He told me that throughout all his process of schooling and interning, he and his wife were always rushing ahead to what was next, what was better, what was going to be easier. Rather, he told me, “[i]n your college and your doctor of osteopathy school and your internship, enjoy it because it will be a very wonderful part of your life.
Don’t overlook that. Enjoy your college” (Woodall). He told me to slow down. Enjoy the little parts and have fun. Earn good grades, but make time to live your life, because we each only get to go through the process once. Overall, this interview with Dr. Woodall was one of the most rewarding and enjoyable forms of research I have ever taken part in. He had so much insight for me to glean and to hopefully later apply into my own life. His answers were concise and easy to understand, even from a simple, layman viewpoint.
He taught me the reasons about why someone should want to be a doctor, whether or not it would be a good fit for them. He then frankly informed me of his personal opinion regarding my primary research question by saying that DOs are really the same as MDs in his eyes and are just as qualified and well-trained. We finished the interview by discussing options for my future on a practical level: talking about how I need to slow down and enjoy college and not be anxious about what lies ahead, but to rather let it come in its time.
This interview with an expert allowed me to get customized answers about all of the questions I wanted to ask rather than trying to make articles and journals off of the internet fit together coherently in my essay. This interview has truly motivated me to explore new forms of research rather than the traditional forms by which I have been gather information and writing research papers. Dr. Woodall made me excited to continue writing this paper and look ahead to my career ahead.