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The Writer: Paul Pender, MD

Updated: Feb 6

Dr. Paul Pender is the author of Rebuilding Trust in Healthcare: A Doctor’s Prescription for a Post-Pandemic America. Drawing on his near 40-year career in clinical ophthalmology and his role as advisor to Vxtra Health, Dr. Pender offers an insider’s look at how trust develops between doctors and their patients. That trust has been eroded by internal and external factors, even before coronavirus, which has undermined that trust even further. His prescription for reform begins with the fundamental building block of healthcare: the patient-physician relationship. Rebuilding Trust uses a case presentation style to illustrate that by working from the bottom up, we can find solutions for better healthcare for patients, physicians and policy makers. His book is a message of hope in a time of uncertainty and will be released on September 20, 2020.

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Dr. Paul Pender is an honors graduate of Harvard College and of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ophthalmology and Neurology, he attended a neurology rotation at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, UK. There, he presented a paper on ophthalmic manifestations of giant cell arteritis. Dr. Pender completed his internship at Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Philadelphia and his residency in ophthalmology at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia before moving to New Hampshire. He is a founding partner of NH Eye Associates, an ophthalmic group practice with offices in Manchester and Londonderry, NH. He founded the NH Eye Surgicenter in Bedford, NH, the first state-licensed and Medicare-certified Ambulatory Surgery Center in New Hampshire and served as its Medical Director. At the national level, he instructed ophthalmologists on laser vision correction and how to create, manage, and market ambulatory surgery centers.

Dr. Pender’s Prescription for Success:

Number 1: Do what you love, and love what you do. If you are going to spend half of your life in a professional career, give yourself options to continue to grow and to enjoy the work. You are in charge of your own personal and professional destiny.

Number 2: Be kind to those around you and treat them with respect. Your success depends on the commitment and success of others. Learn from everyone.

Number 3: Realize that life is short. Even when you are just starting out in medicine. Give yourself time for reflection, and to chart a new course when necessary.

Connect with Dr. Pender:

Notable quotes from Dr. Pender’s Interview:

I think what a student can offer isn’t a lot of skill at that point, but they sure can offer their empathy.
I would say that the patients seem to be very tolerant of our students. I think there’s this wonderful aspect of medical training that assumes that patients are in their own way altruistic about giving up themselves so that the rest of us can learn. And it’s such a privilege, when you think about that we that we in the medical field, have this trust that patients have in us.
You create your own luck, but sometimes you’re just lucky.
(on writing his book) We all use narrative to make sense of things. And so being able to obtain that signal from the noise is why we depend on creating narratives. And so for me it was getting involved in writing was to tell stories about patients and about my experience with patients. And that narrative is a very powerful mechanism, I think, for sharing information with people.
We have the opportunity to start to look at what are better ways that healthcare can be delivered. And I’m proposing using the patient-physician relationship as the fundamental building block for any healthcare reform.
I don’t condemn the docs who take an employment contract because when you think about it, so many are graduating from medical school with debt, and they may have families, and they may be taking a way out that works best for them. But I also feel like there is that bond that forms when you are working for that patient and not just for your employer.
Doctors have been going about the business of caring for patients, as a wave of administrative burden has overwhelmed their duties. Responsibility for patients without commensurate autonomy to make decisions in their best interest is a stressful state for physicians and undermines feelings of self-worth.
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