James Moses, why did you get into health care?

James Moses, MD, MPH; Medical Director of Quality Improvement, Boston Medical Center

My grandfather was a community pediatrician. And growing up, he was pretty influential in my family’s life. I remember very fondly getting to go get my check-up and getting the cookies, and he would not just give me one, but it was the cookies that basically had the hole in the middle so he would put five on my hand. I had this sense of that as an example of someone to be.

And then I think the other influence medically was my dad died when I was an infant. And he died from Haemophilus influenzae epiglottitis, which is actually a childhood disease. And he was 36, otherwise healthy, and came home one night and just wasn’t feeling right. And woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t breathe. And I think that has kind of been an undercurrent to really kind of my medical journey from start to finish. Largely because there were so many questions that were unanswered. And it really wasn’t until I got to medical school that I started learning, hey, this is a bacteria that typically infects 0–5 year olds, and that’s where the morbidity and mortality comes, and having a 36 year old die from this is very rare. Number 2 is the fact that there was a vaccine in the mid-80s that came out that basically has for the most part eradicated at least the severe manifestations of this disease in our population and how that was 9 to 10 years after his death. But it was really though medicine that I was able to get answers not just for me but for my family, and get a deeper understanding of this very serious event that happened when I was a baby.

And I think it was really those two kind of images, of my grandfather and this community pediatrician and a very medical thing that really effected my life early on and my whole family’s life very early on that kind of drove me to have interest in medicine.