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The rigors of treating the patient in chief

The New York Times, November 17, 2010

No patient gets closer medical attention than the president of the United States. Wherever he goes, a doctor, nurse or paramedic trails a few footsteps behind, ready for any medical need. It is the ultimate in concierge medicine.

For the president’s doctor, it is a little different. The job of White House physician combines professional responsibility with the glamour and trappings of proximity to history. The White House medical office is only a few steps from the Oval Office, and the doctor has automatic access to the president’s living quarters.

A medical staff member stays overnight in the White House. When the president travels, the doctor rides in a limousine near the head of the motorcade. Jet lag and stress make the job one of near-constant fatigue, shadowed by dread of assassination attempts.

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