Good news from a doctor

We are blessed with a lot of talented and devoted medical people here in this bayou region, from the specialists at Cardiovascular Institute of the South and their high tech efforts to keep hearts ticking, to Dr. Mike Robichaux in Raceland and his endless displays of heart when it comes to treating people who need help, no matter their circumstances.

And those are just a few examples.

My own physician is Dr. Jack Heidenreich, at Family Practice in Mathews, and I do most of the things he wants me to do. Well almost, and I am working on my bad points.

I had occasion to see him last week because of a burgeoning respiratory problem, relating no doubt to being in crowded airplanes and the cold weather over Christmas in New York, and as always when he walked in to the examining room door I felt happy and cared-for.

But on this visit, there was an extra person.

Shorter than Dr. Jack and considerably younger, was this bespectacled young fellow whom I came to know as Brandon Gil, a 27-year-old 4th year medical student. His task that day was to shadow Dr. Jack, and learn what he could.

Politely, but with confidence, Brandon asked if he could repeat several actions Dr. Jack had already taken, including a basic ear, nose and throat look-see, and of course I consented.

Lots of times when we meet up with students in our doctor’s offices or in hospitals they are from places far away. Sometimes they have names that without help are not pronounceable. This was not the case with Brandon Gil because he wasn’t from anywhere far away at all.

Brandon Gil is from Schriever. His school is LSU Shreveport – the same as Dr. Jack – and he likes the idea of one day practicing medicine right in the area where he grew up and which he still claims as home.

And this home-grown doctor-in-training isn’t seeking out some esoteric specialty that will take him far away once he gets the doc stuff all squared away.

“I decided mostly on general practice,” he said, responding politely to a barrage of questions. “I enjoy the idea of the variety, the relationships from seeing patients over the years. You really get to know people.”

With Dr. Jack and the other physicians who let him come along, Brandon Gil is learning how you listen, really listen, with a stethoscope, and how you talk with people and put them at ease. Working and studying at Ochsner St. Anne’s in Raceland, where Dr. Jack has privileges, is exposing him to a lot of doctors who share his fascination with the local.

“He’s a really easy going kind of guy,” Brandon Gil says of his mentor, my doctor, who knew what I needed right away to fix me up since we have been through this before. Seeing all this interaction, Brandon Gil says, is how he is taught the art of medicine, something you can’t get from the books and the lectures.

Seeing most young people in our neck of the woods being readied for oilfield and mechanical work with few apparent encouragements for seeking careers like the one Brandon Gil pursues makes one wonder if in Terrebonne and Lafourche we will see in the future doctors who are of, by and for the community. It’s nice for people to come from out of town but there is something to be said for a homegrown doctor.

And it appears, after discussion with Brandon Gil, that hope for this still exists.

He is doing well in his studies, and so Brandon Gil might get a lot of offers. But the nagging thought that he cannot shake is the idea of going into practice right here, where his dad has worked in the oilfield for so long and his mom has worked in medical coding at an office, where he went to high school and where he might wish his own kids to go to school. That his wife Tara is local as well – a teacher from Chacahoula – makes this potential more intriguing.

“I can go where the wind takes me,” Brandon Gil said. “But there is a very strong possibility I might want to stay right here. I am very attracted to the idea of coming back home.”

And this is how, on a gloomy day when I was feeling poorly enough to look up my doctor, I got an unusual glimpse of the future.

And for a change, after glimpsing into the future, I would have to say I think our prognosis may be very good.