Out of residency and into practice -- at 84

The former internist finished his fellowship in addiction medicine and psychiatry and returns to practicing medicine full time.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted March 8, 2004

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Gordon Mindrum, MD, is busy doing research on the treatment of cocaine addiction. He's preparing a paper on hepatitis C to present in March and he's still plowing his own driveway at 6 a.m. before leaving for work.

He spent 50 years practicing in internal and occupational medicine. Now he's practicing full time at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Ohio, where he completed a fellowship in June 2003.

The dynamic changes in medicine, like the ability to identify genes that indicate a predisposition for disease, such as alcoholism, fascinate him. Working with students, residents and physicians in his field invigorates him. However, it's the patients who keep him coming in every day.

"I saw a gentleman today. The rascal has been an alcoholic all his life," Dr. Mindrum said. "Lost his wife, his job, his children. He's stopped drinking for 58 days. He comes in daily to take classes and will go to a long-term location for four to six weeks to continue treatment and to learn a trade. He was reared on tobacco and whiskey, but I think he's changing. I think we've hit a home run with this guy."

Victories have been more challenging when it comes to technology.

When he entered his fellowship, Dr. Mindrum no longer had a secretary to do typing, so he had to learn, on his granddaughter's computer.

He's more comfortable with computers these days. However, he has yet to make the jump to a handheld.

"I have a PDA [personal digital assistant] on my list of things to do," he said. "I've dropped hints to my children, but I may have to break down and buy one myself."

In dealing with patients and colleagues, on occasion his age comes up. When they find out he's 84, it raises some suspicions.

"They think I'm not telling the truth," he said, laughing, suggesting he must seem younger than he is.

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