Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's a wrap! Goodwin oral history recap

The last of our three oral history interviews for this week was successfully conducted this morning, as Matt Simek interviewed Dr. Peter A. Goodwin, M.D., for nearly three hours. Goodwin is emeritus professor of Family Medicine here at OHSU, and a vocal advocate for physician-assisted suicide.

Goodwin began with a fascinating discussion of his early years in Capetown, South Africa, his medical education at the University of Capetown Medical School, and his first private practice in Queenstown, South Africa. Freely admitting that he made errors, "both medical and social," Goodwin characterized that practice as "stressful, exciting, grotesque." He studied surgery abroad for two years, finally becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Returning to use his skills in Queenstown, he was hampered by a lack of facilities for blood transfusions (the handful he performed there were direct vein-to-vein) and the complete absence of tools for cautery.

Goodwin fled the country with his wife and children in 1962, coming to the U.S. after witnessing the Sharpeville Massacre and the rise of the National Party. He joined a private practice in Camas, WA, and stayed there for several years before joining the OHSU Dept. of Family Medicine full time in 1980.

A passionate proponent of what he calls "physician-aided dying," Goodwin then went on to discuss his views at length, describing particular cases that influenced his views and led him to champion the terminally ill patient's right to control the time and place of death.

Wrapping up a long, intense, and occasionally emotional interview, Goodwin finished with--of all things--a joke. Certainly a first for the OHSU Oral History Program! Well told, I might add. But I don't think he'll be getting a gig at Spirit Mountain anytime soon...

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