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What’s Up Doc?

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Who remembers the good ‘ole days when your general practitioner (GP), aka internist, could be counted on to be your medical provider for many, many years? Unfortunately, this has changed.

According to an op-ed in the June 1, 2024, Wall Street Journal, the U.S. will be short 40,000 internists by 2030! If you don’t think this won’t impact you, think again.

In the beginning

I’m running out of fingers and toes to count the number of internists I’ve had in my 70 years living in Baltimore. First, Dr. G was my pediatrician. Eventually, my parents switched me to their GP, another Dr. G. He conveniently lived three blocks away. If you needed him, he would come in the middle of the night with his doctor’s bag. His office consisted of an exam room in his house. He retired when I was in college.

My thirties and forties

Dr. F. became my physician after marriage in 1976. His office also was an exam room in his house. My husband used him as well. Neither of us had any chronic medical issues, so we’d see him once a year or so. He was old then and retired a few years later.

Then, I found a wonderful internist, a woman, a third Dr. G. You’d call her office with a medical concern, and within five minutes, she’d call you back! She had a keen sense of getting to the heart of one’s medical issues, and treating the whole patient, not just a specific ache or pain. She was so attentive, empathetic and easy to talk to. Imagine my distress when she sent a letter saying she was quitting medicine due to health reasons. She was in her early 40s!

My late forties, early fifties

Much to my surprise, many of my friends also used Dr. G and were searching for a new doctor. Eventually, I found Dr. D, another female physician. She was “okay,” but something seemed off. (She’s been described as “quirky” by a friend.) Without any chronic medical issues, her quirkiness didn’t concern me much. That is until I had a hysterectomy – about 22 years ago.

Dr. D came into my room the day after surgery and said, “Your blood sugar is high, and therefore, you are probably diabetic.” Huh? My blood sugar was always in the normal range, and there was no history of diabetes in my family. For the four or five days I was in the hospital, nurses came in every four hours to do a finger stick. That was not fun. And I cried in my hospital room believing I’d never be able to eat chocolate or ice cream again!

My blood sugar levels returned to normal limits. Having little confidence in Dr. D’s diagnostic abilities, I decided to switch doctors. I found Dr. K., who practiced at Sinai Hospital. I liked her; she seemed attentive and easy to talk to. Guess what happened after a couple of years? She retired.

My mid-fifties

Somewhat frustrated, I asked a neighbor, a doctor, whom he might recommend. He told me to call Dr. G in Owings Mills (the 4th Dr. G!). She was young and building her practice. Great! She’d be around for many years. Yet, I never felt she listened to me. Unlike the first female Dr. G, she addressed only the specific ache or pain, not the whole person.

For example, she’d say, “Your blood pressure is high.”

I would remark, “I’m not surprised, as my job is stressful.”

No comment or reaction. And the office staff were nasty and extremely unfriendly. However, that problem was solved when Dr. G sent a letter, stating she was starting a concierge practice. So much for Dr. G number four.

My sixties

That led to Dr. S, another female physician who was practicing at Greenspring Station, Lutherville. Not only was she a good practitioner and easy to get hold of, but the office staff were friendly, nice and helpful. Using the Hopkins medical portal for prescription renewals or medical questions was tricky at first, but I got the hang of it.

Guess what? At the end of this May I received a letter from her that she was moving out of state. She included links to other practices, but strangely enough, didn’t recommend anyone from her office (about 20 doctors practice there).

Into my seventies

This time, finding a new internist has been almost impossible. I spent four to five days googling and calling. Most of the offices contacted said their physicians were not taking new patients. (One receptionist said the doctor could see me in seven months!) My husband’s doctor, Dr. C, practices in the same office as Dr. S. She hasn’t responded to his email asking her to take me as a new patient as a courtesy to him. He’s called the office twice, leaving messages. No one has called him back!

Next, I emailed everyone I knew, asking for recommendations. Quite a few names came up, and finally, a friend recommended a young doctor who was accepting new patients (another Dr. S). But the soonest appointment is in October; that’s five months away.

My guess is that this doctor will be fine – again, thank goodness, I’m not dealing with any chronic medical issues – but she’ll move on in a few years. I’ll be in the same boat, and the chances of finding a doctor will be worse as we get closer to 2030.


Let me conclude that two friends, both in their 90s, also have been looking for a new internist. I made “a match” between Mrs. J and a geriatrician, Dr. G. I referred the second friend, Mrs. W, to my new doctor’s office. She was able to get an appointment with another young female physician in the practice. However, the appointment isn’t until the end of October. She’s thrilled to have found someone. This winter she underwent extensive surgery for a sarcoma on her leg. She says jokingly, however, “I wonder if I’ll be around then!”

This is nuts!

Please leave your comments below.

Read more by Eileen Creeger.

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