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In honor of ACP's Centennial, My Kind of Medicine: IM
Family is a new series of physician profiles featuring
multi-generational internists. The stories will appear in several
issues throughout 2015 to showcase how a tradition of caring and a
passion for internal medicine are passed from one generation to the
David R. Lawrenz, MD, FACP
Retired from private practice in 2010
Washington Internists Group, LLC, Washington, DC
Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, NY
Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY
Governor, ACP Washington, DC Chapter:
Alice Lawrenz Fuisz, MD, FACP
Private Practice, Washington Internists Group, LLC, Washington,
Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon
Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
Despite the administrative complexities and burdens that private
practitioners face in today's healthcare environment, ACP Governor,
Dr. Alice Lawrenz Fuisz, FACP, and her father Dr. David Lawrenz,
FACP, a retired private practice internist are two physicians who
wouldn't trade the independence, the patient-physician
relationships, and the continuity of care unique to private
Dr. Fuisz joined her father's practice, the Washington
Internists Group, LLC, in 2000 and the two worked together for 10
years before her father retired at the age of 78. The two
physicians have much in common. Both graduated from Amherst College
with a liberal arts education before attending medical school, both
play bridge and love to exercise (tennis and golf for him, spinning
and swimming for her), and both are avid readers.
But there are differences between the two. Dr. Fuisz describes
her dad as a gentle soul, a quiet man who is easygoing and loves
poetry. She, on the other hand, has a more take-charge personality,
and likes to organize events and does not shy away from issues or
Dr. David Lawrenz
Dr. David Lawrenz was born in Sharon, Connecticut, the eighth of
10 children. His father was a farmer with a third grade education
who emigrated from Germany at the age of 16. His mother had a high
school education and loved to read. Despite the demands of farming
and raising 10 children, Dr. Lawrenz recalls, "One of my most
distinct memories is my mother reading, just one book after
Dr. Lawrenz inherited his mother's passion for reading and
excelled academically. His performance did not go unnoticed or
unrewarded. When the local barber heard about his grades, he
introduced him to the headmaster of Hotchkiss, one of the foremost
college preparatory schools on the east coast. Dr. Lawrenz not only
received an academic scholarship to Hotchkiss, but to Amherst
College as well, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the
nation; and then, on an ROTC scholarship, he got a medical degree
from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
After completing his residency at Strong Memorial Hospital in
Rochester, NY, Dr. Lawrenz did a Fellowship with a researcher in
Boston who specialized in kidney disease, but decided that research
was not for him. He then committed two years of service to the
military, a requirement of his ROTC scholarship, and served at
Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC where he took medical
histories of servicemen about to be discharged. It was during that
period that he met Dr. Werth Daniels, a physician who had a private
practice in the District of Columbia. Dr. Lawrenz joined the
practice and remained there for 46 years.
Dr. Lawrenz enjoyed private practice, "I liked having personal
contact with patients and developing relationships with them and
their families." In the course of a 46-year career, he witnessed
many changes in medicine. "Knowing when to refer a patient to a
specialist and then maintaining the continuity of care was a
challenge," says Dr. Lawrenz. "And of course, there were no
computers or electronic records in the early years. I wrote
everything and used shorthand. But of course, Alice relies heavily
on the computer in her practice."
The establishment of Medicare in 1966 was another huge change
for practitioners and patients alike. "It was a godsend really,"
says Dr. Lawrenz, "but there were some who thought government was
being intrusive, and would use the program to look at our records
and dictate how we could practice medicine." Another change in
medicine was the evolution of internet-savvy patients. "Patients
are getting very sophisticated which can be challenging for
doctors," says Dr. Lawrenz, "but having well-informed patients is
actually helpful to doctors. They come in sooner, ask good
questions, and follow up with tests."
Now 82, Dr. Lawrenz still plays tennis three days a week, and
enjoys playing golf and bridge. His first wife, Betty, died of
Alzheimer's at the age of 71. He later remarried Ann Hartman. The
couple play bridge on weekends with Alice and her siblings, are
passionate about the arts, and enjoy summer trips to Chataqua, NY,
a retreat that offers concerts, lectures and classes. A true
internist, Dr. Lawrenz is committed to life-long learning. He is
currently learning to paint with watercolors and is always reading,
writing, and reciting poetry.
Dr. Alice Lawrenz Fuisz
Dr. Alice Lawrenz Fuisz grew up in Chevy Chase, MD, the youngest
of five. "I knew I wanted to be a doctor from a very early age,"
she admits. "Obviously, not because of any academic interests at
that age, but because I could see that my father loved what he was
doing and I liked the concept of taking care of people."
"I remember sitting in the car with my mother and my siblings
after church on Sundays waiting while my father would visit
patients in the hospital," recalls Dr. Fuisz, "And I remember him
answering his beeper and being on the phone a lot when I was a
child, but for the most part, we had a very traditional family life
and he was home every night for dinner."
Like her father, Dr. Fuisz was an excellent student. She was
President of the student government in high school and graduated
with honors from Amherst College. At Amherst she was in the pre-med
group, but Amherst is a liberal arts college, so she majored in
English. "Getting credit for reading novels, how great is that?"
To avoid the pressure of taking the MCATs while doing her senior
thesis, Dr. Fuisz took a year off after Amherst and worked in a lab
at the National Institutes of Health. She earned her medical degree
at Georgetown University School of Medicine where she met her
husband, Dr. Tony Fuisz. The couple married during their fourth
year and couples-matched at Oregon Health Sciences University in
"I knew I wanted to do primary care," says Dr. Fuisz, "but I
also considered specializing in Neurology. Like medicine, it's
intellectual, there are lots of puzzles to figure out and physical
examination is so critical, but in the end I liked the concept of
continuity of care. I grew up watching my father take care of
people for 40 plus years. To enter people's lives and to be a
doctor that people trust is really an honor."
Dr. Fuisz and her husband left Oregon after he was offered a
cardiology Fellowship at the University of Alabama Birmingham
(UAB). Their first child, Richard, was born during Dr. Fuisz's
third year of residency and so she opted to work part-time at UAB
practicing internal medicine and teaching residents in the General
Internal Medicine Division headed by Robert Centor, MD, MACP,
former Chair, ACP Board of Regents. Richard is now 20 and a college
sophomore at Stanford majoring in bioengineering. Dr. Fuisz's
second child, daughter Grace, is a senior in high school who is
waiting to hear from colleges.
After five years in Birmingham, the young family moved to
Washington, DC. "It was good timing for us," says Dr. Fuisz, "I
wanted to be near my mom who was then sick with Alzheimer's, my
husband was hired to start a cardiac MRI program at Washington
Hospital Center, and there was room for me to join my father's
practice." "I always imagined that I would work with my father,"
says Dr. Fuisz. "There was really no downside. My father is an
easygoing person and a great team player, and I immediately had
someone I felt comfortable asking questions."
Like her father and his partners, Dr. Fuisz believed it was
important to be a member of ACP. Dr. Dick Perry, one of the senior
partners in her father's group was then ACP Governor of the
Washington, DC Chapter and encouraged her to attend chapter
meetings. She quickly got involved in the women's group and for
several years served as the co-chair of the Women in Medicine
section of the Chapter before running for Governor. Dr. Fuisz is
the recipient of ACP's Maher Laureate award and the chapter
leadership award for her work with the Women in Medicine group.
"ACP is our community, our medical home," says Dr. Fuisz. In her
role as Governor of ACP's Washington, DC Chapter she has focused on
expanding networking opportunities. "It's important to get out of
our silos and to network with peers. In DC, we're all in driving
distance of each other so we are able to have a lot of in-person
events. I think physicians really enjoy that."
With the help of Laurie Duncan, MD, FACP, Dr. Fuisz developed a
salon program. A small group of members meet in her home, have
dinner, listen to speakers and discuss topics of clinical or
political interest. Events have included presentations on skin
rashes and ear-nose-throat conditions, and discussions about
Obamacare. Drs. Fuisz and Duncan keep the topics fresh and the
logistics simple-the meetings are limited to 20, a catering company
prepares the meals, Dr. Duncan provides the delivery service, and
participants throw in $20 to cover costs.
Dr. Fuisz agrees there are too many burdens on physicians today
and she understands why that drives many to seek employment over
private practice, but she is quick to add, "I love having control
over my own schedule. When you work for someone else you are told
how many patients you need to see and you are always encouraged to
"We used to say that internists were the smartest kids in the
class," she says, "It's unfortunate that money has become a carrot
luring those students away from internal medicine." For her, the
rapport she has with patients and the investigative challenges of
internal medicine are the real carrots. "You walk into a room and
you have no idea what a patient is going to tell you. I recently
saw a patient who came in for a routine pre-op appointment and
discovered she was suffering from depression because of the recent
death of her sister."
Like getting credit for reading novels, Dr. Fuisz is getting
paid to be a part of people's lives-discovering their problems and
finding solutions that help them-how great is that?
Back to May
2015 Issue of IMpact
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