The application for the ophthalmology position at San Francisco was not any slam-dunk. Apparently there was another ‘super intern’ named Sandy who had been eyeing that position and had been buttering up the Chief, Dr. William Richards. Sandy was an impressive intern, who had decided early to specialize in ophthalmology. He knew about this special program at San Francisco U.S. Public Health Service, which is why he chose to intern there.
This was the scene I entered. Dr. Richards knew nothing of me but he promised Dr. Dykstra that he would at least meet me for an interview. I was told around Thanksgiving during my internal medicine rotation that I’d best fly out to San Francisco as soon as possible if I truly wanted to be competing. I hopped on the next week-end flight and had a very cordial and candid dinner meeting with Dr. Richards. He was impressed with all my recommendations and accolades. Sometime in the conversation he informed me that he had multiple myeloma and asked what did I know about the disease. Having spent time in internal medicine, I knew about the symptoms related to myeloma as described with the mnemonic CRAB: high blood Calcium, poor Renal or kidney function, Anemia, and Bone pain or bone lesions. I asked how many of these were affecting him. He was impressed. Then he asked if I were Chinese? I answered that I was a Communist Effected Refugee from China. He confessed that he was quarter Chinese with a grandmother who had immigrated to HI. As we parted he agreed not to make any definitive decision and instead punted the decision to the headquarters, (U.S. PHS in DC.) Dr Herington was the decision maker, taking into account the best qualified, versus cost of transfers, and long term benefit for the PHS. Drs Stein and Dykstra strongly advocated on my behalf citing my overall devotion to PHS and my patients. They had reason to believe that I would be a career PHS officer. This information convinced Dr. Herington to award the San Francisco program to me and he offered the Manhattan Eye program to Sandy.
Sandy finished his training and promptly left PHS. I stayed with PHS until the government tried to close down the Seattle PHS in 1979 and wanted to transfer me to New Orleans to be the chief of the department there. At the time, I did not feel I was qualified to be chief and felt a little foolish to accept the accelerated temporary rank of Captain, a 4-striper that accompanied the position. Furthermore, I did not want to leave Seattle. I resigned from the U.S. Public Health Service on 1 July 1979, having served from 1 July 1970, a career of nine years.