Let's Put an End to Annual Physicals
The doctor looked in my ears, shined a light in my eyes and mouth, and listened to my heart and lungs with his stethoscope, before ending the exam with this: “Turn your head and cough, sir.” I did what I was told, but the whole experience felt absurd. This wasn’t a physical I’d scheduled or wanted. And the last time any doctor had asked me to turn my head and cough—a hernia exam—Nixon was president and I was 12, in my skivvies along with 30 other boys, lined up in a cold Michigan gymnasium, getting cleared for basketball.
The exam was required because the hospital, where I’ve worked as an emergency room physician for 30 years, had just acquired my physician group. I and 100 colleagues were technically new employees, necessitating pre-employment physicals. It didn’t matter we are in the middle of a pandemic.