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January 12, 1990

'Astronaut' Emphasized Over 'Physician,' but Some Manage to Stay in Practice

Author Affiliations

(1989-1990 JAMA Morris Fishbein Fellow in Medical Journalism)

(1989-1990 JAMA Morris Fishbein Fellow in Medical Journalism)

JAMA. 1990;263(2):196. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440020014003

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DO PHYSICIAN-astronauts have opportunity to practice more conventional, earthbound medicine?

Jeff Carr of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), when asked about physician-astronauts' maintaining clinical skills, says: "They generally don't. When they come to work for [the] NASA, they are NASA astronauts, not NASA physicians."

Some Do Clinical Work  However, he adds, some find time for work in a local hospital emergency department or pursuing some other form of medical practice.One of the physician-astronauts who does work in an emergency department a few days a month is M. Rhea Seddon, MD.Says Seddon: "I have a pretty full job at [the] NASA but, to really feel like I can still diagnose a problem and treat a patient, I like to keep my hand in and do a little bit of emergency medicine."

Young Person's Job?  Another question that is asked about these physicians, and other astronauts, is: Is