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The Color of Atmosphere: One Doctor's Journey in and out of Medicine Paperback – January 29, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1 edition (January 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603582975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603582971
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A rare, intimate portrayal of one pediatrician's journey to become a doctor and her heart-wrenching decision years later to eventually leave medicine. Told with candor and wit, Maggie Kozel's memoir is a powerful reminder of the complex forces that shape medical practice today."--Eliza Lo Chin, MD, MPH, President, American Medical Women's Association, and Editor, This Side of Doctoring: Reflections from Women in Medicine



"Dr. Kozel captures perfectly the malaise that has struck American medicine in general and primary care in particular. The chronicle of this intelligent and committed physician-who is frustrated at every turn as she tries to find satisfaction in a profession to which she had expected to dedicate her life-is a powerful indictment of our current system of medical care. We should have done better by her."--Beach Conger, MD, physician and author, Bag Balm and Duct Tape: Tales of a Vermont Doctor

About the Author

Dr. Maggie Kozel graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine and went on to specialize and practice in pediatrics. Dr. Kozel left practice after seventeen years and is currently teaching high school chemistry in the Providence area. She lives in Jamestown, RI, with her husband and daughters.


More About the Author

In "The Color of Atmosphere: One Doctor's Journey In and Out of Medicine," Maggie Kozel tells the story of her medical career with warmth, humor, and above all, honesty. As we follow Kozel from her idealistic days as a devoted young pediatrician, through her Navy experience with universal health coverage, and on into the world of private practice, we see not only her reverence for medical science, and her compassion for patients, but also the widening gap between what she was trained to do, and what is eventually expected of her. Her personal story plays out against the backdrop of our changing healthcare system, and demonstrates the way our method of paying for healthcare has reached its way into the exam room, putting a stranglehold on the way doctor's practice, and profoundly influencing the doctor-patient relationship. The stories she shares illustrate the medical, economic and moral complexities of U.S. healthcare. To understand Dr. Kozel's ultimate decision to leave medicine is to have a better understanding of the disconnect between our marvelous medical resources, and the ways our healthcare system falls short of delivering them.
Dr. Maggie Kozel graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine and went on to specialize and practice in pediatrics, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Kozel left practice after seventeen years, and is currently teaching high school chemistry in the Providence area. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and to Kevinmd, as well as her own site, barkingdoc.com. She lives in Jamestown, RI with her husband and daughters.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Dr. Kozel entered the private practice of pediatrics, following medical service in Navy.
James Strock
People tend to think that it's "only" the patients who've been screwed by the US' health care system, but this book will show you the other side.
BrainDoc
This book was well written, easy to follow (not a lot of medical terms that may get the reader lost) and an interesting perspective.
M. Palasik

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lita Perna VINE VOICE on March 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book shows what managed care has wrought; how it turned a dedicated doctor into a disillusioned "health care provider" and her patients into "health care consumers" who demand and expect child care advice, not the expertise of a highly trained physician.

This is an engrossing story of struggle, idealism and disillusionment; of how a girl who grew up in an emotionally brutal, alcoholic home, overcame all odds and became a physician. The story follows her through triumphs and struggles of medical school, internship and residency and her grueling days and nights as a pediatrician and then finally, after having overcome all these obstacles, her defeat at the hands of managed care.

The author describes in exquisite detail the hours, day and nights, she put in, the number of patients she was forced to see in a day due to low reimbursement payments, the dictated amount of time she could spend with them, the constant threat of malpractice suits and the unending attention to insurance premiums, co-pay deductibles and out-of-pocket payments, and the increasingly unrealistic expectations of health insurance companies. She came to realize that... "Health insurance reimbursement...not pediatric training programs determine what a pediatrician is expected to do."

The Color of Atmosphere is enriched with the author's descriptions of family members; her unloving, alcoholic, bitter-tongued mother, indifferent father, her beloved Aunt Dorothy and the emotionally defeated siblings who left home early and from whom she became estranged. This narrative alone makes for a compelling story.

Maggie Kozel shows us a first hand, behind the scenes, up close account of what it means to be a doctor today.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By I. Gladstone, MD on January 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
In The Color of Atmosphere, Dr. Kozel gives us the modern-day equivalent of Sinclair Lewis's Martin Arrowsmith. Now, as in the 1920's, the dedicated idealistic medical student journeys through the various territories of American medicine, and gradually discovers how bleak that landscape is. Where Dr. Arrowsmith finally finds fulfillment and joy in medical research, Dr. Kozel stays true to her original dedication to children by becoming a chemistry teacher. The journey is heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting and hopeful.

The remarkable difference between the two books is that The Color of Atmosphere is not fiction. The excitement of discovery, the joy of helping an ill child, the shock at the venality of colleagues, parents, lawyers, and insurance companies; all are real and immediate. There are no fictional stereotypes, only live and complex characters.

This is the book that all healthcare administrators, politicians, and consumers should read. The problems explored, and some of the solutions offered, must be confronted and discussed before the care of children, and American healthcare in general, can be improved. American medicine needs more Maggie Kozels.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By ruthjoec on January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
Thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, I had the opportunity to read Maggie Kozel's memoir of her time as a medical student and pediatrician. Born in a dysfunctional family, the daughter of alcoholic parents, Maggie decided while a student in a Catholic high school that she wanted to be a doctor. We followed her through medical school, residency, the Navy, work in a community charity clinic, private practice and, finally, out of practice and into teaching.

While mostly a memoir, this book is also a not-to-subtle call for the United States to adopt the medical model used by the US military in the early 1980's. In short, every patient (and at that time this model was used to treat family members and retirees as well as active-duty service people) had an assigned medical clinic or hospital. When you got sick, you went there and were treated. Work was delegated down to non-physician providers when possible. No money changed hands. She could order the treatments she thought best without worrying about being paid or about malpractice. Patients didn't have to worry about paying for it.

Kozel complains about parents who wanted antibiotics for colds or who didn't listen to her when she suggested that "Johnny" needed more playtime and less screen time. She complains about doctors who avoid tough cases because of the time commitment and the risk of malpractice suits. Mostly she complains about the insurance reimbursement system which, in her opinion, rewards the wrong thing. An example she gives is well-baby checks. In the military hospital, kids the same age were scheduled for checks on the same day. First, the nurse talked to a room full of parents going over milestones, discipline issues, and other stuff that gets discussed with everyone at those visits.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By atmj TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reading of Maggie Kozel's life becoming a doctor and then gradual disillusionment is a cautionary tale. If we are losing our motivated doctors and our health care system is being run by the accountants, what is our level of medical care?

The author tells of her difficult childhood and eventual pursuit of her medical degree interwoven into each chapter. She understands the role poverty plays in parental care first hand. However her first experiences as a doctor are in the idealized world of the armed services where the services provided are not filtered through an insurance carrier and for the most part except for high ranking officers, all participants are treated equally and the level of care is provided appropriately.

Once Maggie became a pediatrician in general practice in the US, she realized the decisions made by the doctor, are not necessarily solely guided by the care the patient needs, but considerable influence is waged by what the insurance company will pay for. Additionally if a practice takes in Medicaid patients, the type of care is severely impacted by what is allowed and paid for. Many practices will not take Medicaid patients for this reason.

Over and over again in this book you can see the level of care pediatricians are asked to provide are hardly what their training prepared them for. Teething, Nursing and various well baby questions could be better covered by well trained nurses, but insurance carriers won't pay for that. It also seems Doctors in smaller practices are being run into the ground providing unreimbursed after hour care as well. I guess I always thought that being a doctor, paid well. Now I'm not so sure. Considering the hours, minimum wage is starting to look good.
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