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News & Press: History of the Osteopathic Profession

Paul R. Munson, DO - History of the Osteopathic Profession

Friday, May 11, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: John Stiger, DO
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One of the foundations of full acceptance of the Osteopathic profession in the State of Oregon has been the competent and compassionate manner in which DOs treated their patients. On many occasions, it has been the patients of osteopathic physicians that spoke out in support the profession’s quest for full acceptance in the medical community.  Paul Munson, DO inspired countless patients during his 40 year career as a general practice doctor serving a small Oregon towns. He is a role model that all doctors should emulate.


Dr. Munson was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon where he spent his formative years. His family doctor was Dr. Gregory, a female osteopathic general practitioner. At an early age Dr. Munson’s father died at age 49 and Dr. Munson’s mother had to care for Paul and his sibling. After high school, Dr. Munson decided to attend Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington.  Later when he applied to medical school he was informed that since he wasn’t a Washington native the University of Washington medical school was not an option. He had a similar experience at the University of Oregon. At the suggestion of a friend who would be attending the Kirksville school, he also applied there. While waiting for a reply, he taught school for a year in Cle Elum, Washington. By then he was married, and in the course of the next four years had two children.  He attended Kirksville from 1962 to 1966 and stayed another year to act as a TA in pharmacology, completing his stay in Kirksville in 1967.


After that extra year, he was accepted for a rotating internship at Eastmoreland General Hospital in Portland. After graduating and getting his Oregon license, he took a position in Estacada while the owner, Vern Hall, DO went to South America. Just as Dr. Munson was establishing himself in Estacada, Dr. Hall returned and took over his practice again.  Happily, his friend and longtime colleague, Terry Dierdorff, DO said that there was a place for him in Monmouth, Oregon.  Initially, the two doctors covered the ER at Eastmoreland, but in three months the practice in Monmouth was booming. Dr. Dierdorff had had a two year residency in OB in Chicago. Between the two doctors, they were delivering 200 babies a year!  The hospital they utilized was the hospital in Dallas, Oregon.  


Typical of DOs serving in small DO hospitals, Dr. Munson served on virtually every hospital committee and also as chief of staff. In addition to his hospital practice, Dr. Munson served in the local Lutheran Church as an Elder. He was also a member of most of the civic clubs in town and served as team physician for Western Oregon State University. Additionally, he served as an advisor and trainer for the nurse’s aide training program.  While all this was happening he was an attentive father and husband active in the rearing of five children. He practiced in Monmouth for 30 years, and Dallas for 9 years.


From the outset, Dr. Munson made house calls. His subscribed to the philosophy that if it was easier for him to visit to the patient than it was for the patient to come to him, he made the call. This policy was greatly appreciated by the very elderly and cancer patients.  Often, he would be called to areas out in the boondocks that he was unfamiliar with. To solve that problem, he would instruct the patient or relative to meet him at the Union 76 station. He would tell the patient that he would be there in 30 minutes and then he would follow them to their location. This arrangement worked well. On the occasion that able patients were unwilling to meet at the local gas station, Dr. Munson would then ask them to meet in the office.


Once, while practicing in Estacada, he examined a young girl who was about four months pregnant. She was obviously distraught and was advised to return in two weeks for a prenatal exam. Two nights later, Dr. Munson received a call from the girl’s grandmother saying that she was having a very bad time.  Dr. Munson made a house call, and when he arrived, he found the girl with a partially delivered baby protruding in the breech position. He delivered the 1 lb. 6 oz. baby and asked for a cardboard box. He wrapped the tiny baby in tinfoil, placed her in the box and returned to the Estacada fire station where he borrowed an oxygen tank and a nasal cannula. He turned the heat up in his station wagon as much as he could stand and drove to Doernbecker Hospital in Portland.  They accepted the immature baby and over the next months she grew to 5 lb. 8 oz. Dr. Munson called regularly on the baby’s progress but after the baby were released the family moved and unfortunately, he never heard how the baby fared later in life.


Dr. Munson is retired now, and lives with his second wife Rosie in Salem. He enjoys his golf and his winters in Arizona. He states that his career as a DO was very rewarding, but the last two years were difficult as he tried to cope with the advent of EMRs and increasing difficulties with reimbursements.  He has been amazed and excited about the new school in Lebanon.  We have encouraged him to visit and see that the osteopathic profession is moving forward to embrace the future while at the same time preserving the values that made him such a wonderful physician. 

 


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