Wisdom of Practice Oral Histories

Wisdom of Practice is a series of initiatives advancing the understanding, practice, education, and policy of integrated, personalized health care. 

The Oral History Initiative - conversations with front line clinicians and policy makers - sheds light on the past, present, and future of private practice and its role in making personal doctoring possible. By capturing clinicians' rich lived experiences, this initiative brings to life changes in health care delivery over more than half a century and informs the future of medical practice.

This page includes an overview of interviews completed to date by the Center for Community Health Integration (interviewer: Robin Gotler, MA).  Full transcripts of the Wisdom of Practice oral history interviews will be available through Case Western Reserve University's Dittrick Medical History Center (details to be announced).  


Oral Histories in Brief


Photo of John Brady MD

John Brady, MD, Newport News, Virginia

May 1, 2023


Summary: John Brady shares his perspective as a long-time independent solo family physician and an active participant in primary care policymaking. 

When Dr. Brady established his solo practice in 2004, the "Ideal Medical Practice" model was gaining traction. By greatly reducing overhead, utilizing available technology, and focusing on relationships rather than volume, Ideal Medical Practices aimed to increase patient access, care coordination, and physician autonomy. Dr. Brady's practice embraced this model at a time of rapid consolidation and corporatization in health care. In this interview he reflects on his experiences as a solo physician and practice owner, alternative practice models, the implications of how we define and measure quality of care, the decline of small practices, the value of practice innovation, and the importance of challenging healthcare's status quo. 


In [our] practice...there wasn’t an administrator saying...'you’ve got to crank it up, man.'  I was accepting a lower salary intentionally so that I could spend more time with people…it really was refreshing… I felt like what we were doing was special."

"…[T]he biggest shift...in the past 15 to 20 years is, in the search for quality we’ve moved towards consolidation, toward larger groups, and I worry that...many patients nowadays have no idea what it’s like to have a high continuity practice, or to have really good access without having to go to urgent care...and so that’s my concern: is primary care...potentially dying because we’ve lost what our fundamental purpose is?"

"If it’s your own practice and your name is on the door and you’re the owner of it, you’re going to go the extra mile, and I think that’s what’s lost.  When you start losing the independent practices, you also start losing some interesting innovations….  At a time that we know the healthcare system is failing...in many different ways, this is the time that we need to really challenge processes."


Larry Green

Larry Green, MD, Denver, Colorado

March 7, 2022


Summary: Larry Green is a family physician with extensive experience in family medicine, practice-based research, and health policy. 

Framed by his childhood in Ardmore, Oklahoma and the experience of having a local family doctor, Dr. Green views medicine, particularly family medicine, as a calling. His experiences include formative training at one of the country's first family practice residency programs, rural practice, serving as a department chair at a pivotal time of change, and leading his discipline's first policy research center in Washington, DC.  His story sheds a personal light on the US healthcare's profit focus; the future of the medical profession; the importance of having a personal physician; academic family medicine; the rise of large hospital systems and loss of control of practice; curriculum innovations; policy issues; the importance of measuring what matters; and the importance of mentors and professional and personal support.


"[My family doctor growing up] ...was involved with my mother’s health care, my dad’s health care, and he knew my sister, and he had been in our home.  He had been in my grandparent’s home.  He didn’t need a record of our social determinants."

"...[I]n a capitalistic world with venture capitalists buying up practices and the fundamental purpose being to meet shareholders’ expectations or to retrieve the investment as quickly as possible...when those owners take charge of telling doctors what they can and can’t do, now that’s the end of medicine as a profession..."

"The core problem [in healthcare] is this: is the purpose of medicine to heal people, to relieve suffering, to place the interest of someone who’s frightened, scared, or very sick ahead of your own? If that’s its purpose, then that’s an ethical undertaking."


Photo of Will Miller smiling

William Miller, MD, MA, Allentown, Pennsylvania

June 15, 2023


Summary: As both an anthropologist and a family physician, Will Miller has been intimately involved in healing, innovation, private and system-owned practice, medical education, residency training, and family medicine administration.

Dr. Miller's path has included many stops, in locations from Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley to a one-room schoolhouse on the island of Utila. In this interview, he shares his experiences as a physician, educator, administrator, pioneering qualitative researcher, and parent, as well as his work to help transform an increasingly standardized healthcare system by focusing on generalism, relationships, place, resilience, and adaptation. 


"[Y]ou’re never in balance [as a physician in independent practice], but you can compose a life, a coherent life. You can honor and respect all those parts of yourself if you’re willing to sort of mix it up and pay attention to all of them. You do need to set some boundaries, but you also need to make them permeable." 

"We won’t find [good relationships] in healthcare if we can’t find them anywhere else. Healthcare isn’t gonna be the last place they’re saved, but as long as they exist, they’ll find their way into health care, too...we need to keep preparing people who know how to recognize that and make it happen."

"Generalism is ... a way of being present to the world in how we see, understand and make sense...[I]n private practice, it’s easier to preserve generalism. As an employee in a system that knows nothing but standardization and mechanism, it may be impossible, where you’re being measured for all the wrong things and held so powerfully accountable to where that ability to maintain your identity that sets a purpose can become really hard..."


Head and shoulders photo of Dick Morehead

Sherrod Morehead, PhD, Bluffton, South Carolina

May 4, 2022


Summary: Sherrod (Dick) Morehead has had a wide-ranging career as a clinical psychologist, researcher, and pioneer in establishing independent multi-specialty practice in Northeast Ohio. 

Although Dr. Morehead's interest in clinical psychology was set at an early age, it wasn't until he was in his first clinical psychology job, in Cleveland, Ohio, that the business of medical practice became an urgent concern. In 1973 - a time when clinicians in academia were almost exclusively employed by hospitals - he and colleagues who were dissatisfied with the status quo established an independent, comprehensive, multi-specialty outpatient medical center. Their move was well-received by local residents and the business community, but not the medical establishment. As a medical center leader for more than 50 years, Dr. Morehead had a front row seat to the inner-workings of healthcare including the centralization of practice, the evolution of managed care, the joys and challenges of private practice, and the importance of ongoing relationships with patients and colleagues. 


"What [health care] really amounts to [now] is something very simple: a doctor...signs an employment agreement...He delivers, she delivers X, Y and Z over A, B, C time at 1, 2, 3 volume. That’s the contract. If you don’t make the contract, you’re penalized. So you have a health factory, and, unfortunately, the health factory defines you as a “provider” (equals “employee”) and it’s killing professionalism."

"...[W]hen you’re seeing one doctor after the next, it’s an information exchange, it’s not a relationship. And I can assure you that a huge part of the healing process is determined by the relationship."

"...[Y]our colleagues play a huge role in treating your patients...we’d be standing at the coffee pot...and somebody would say, '...Here’s what’s going on. What do you think about this?' And inevitably, somebody would say, ‘I’ve seen that before, too. Here’s what I think it is,’ and that takes five minutes, and the patient benefits enormously..."



Photo of Kenneth Qiu in white lab coat

Kenneth Qiu, MD, Midlothian, Virginia

August 17, 2022


Summary: Kenneth Qiu is the founder of EuDoc, a Direct Primary Care (DPC) practice, and a champion of the DPC movement. 

When Dr. Qiu discovered DPC as a fourth-year medical student, he saw it as a path to combine his interests in policy, innovation, and the business of healthcare. Now, in light of those interests, and as a practice owner, he considers both local and large-scale issues: the processes of establishing and organizing a DPC practice, community and business relationships, potential practice innovations, the challenge of defining primary care, and insurance/payment issues including the limitations of employer-based insurance. He also looks to the future and ways to optimize chronic, acute, and mental health care.


"…I get to think about innovation all the time…‘What’s out on the market?  How can I make the membership more valuable for my members?  How can I extend our clinical abilities…through new AI technologies or new devices…?’ …[T]hese are things that…primary care docs generally don’t think about because they’re so busy just trying to get through their 40 patients."  

"…I think the technology has evolved, the medicine has evolved, but because our payment structure hasn’t, our payment structure is still archaic, it drags everything down with it."  

"…[A] lot of this idea of Direct Care and putting primary care back at the helm is to say… ‘How do we make [primary care] better...so that we’re the ones…making the decisions?’ because I think we need to stop giving away ground...[W]hen we take over these processes and these operations, I think we can make it better."