Mark D. Goodman, MD, AAFP, AAHIVS
Creighton University Medical Center
In the Mountain Plains state of Nebraska, Dr. Mark Goodman reflects on what motivated him to pursue specializing in HIV care. “My personal statement reads: to contribute to a world of less cruelty, by demonstrating charity, mercy and forbearance, and to be of service to others. Caring for persons with HIV, both then and now, helps me to live my mission.”
Then was 1985 when Goodman graduated from University of Nebraska’s School of Medicine, or in 1988 when he completed his Residency in Family Medicine at Rush University in Chicago, or in 1995, which is when Goodman remembers first becoming involved in the medical treatment of people living with HIV. Over the decades, Goodman’s career in HIV care has taken him from Walnut Creek, California in the 1980s, to Showak, Sudan and Migori, Kenya, where he worked with Lalmba Association, a non-profit organization active in several countries in Africa teaching individuals to care for their own health needs and providing medical care in the 1990s. He recalls going from village to village by boat along the shores of Lake Victoria doing HIV testing and setting up care practices in Kenya. Goodman returned to Nebraska and went into practice at the Charles Drew Health Clinic in Omaha and received an academic appointment with Creighton University in 1994.
Now Goodman is a professor of Family Medicine at Creighton University in Omaha and works in both worlds: academia, teaching our next generation of family physicians and medical students and also at a robust medical practice in the Old Market in Omaha where he is “honored to provide care for upwards of 150 persons living with HIV.” When asked about his patient population, Goodman says, “I see 20-25 patients daily who represent all walks of life; infants to elders, and inclusive; rich, poor, powerful, vulnerable, black, white, native, gay, straight, transgender, right, left, you name it. My practice is looking a little older though, as am I.” Goodman attributes much of the success of his practice to working with an amazing team. “I know for a fact that some of my patients like my receptionist and medical assistant more than they like me,” he says with a smile. “Because I am a family physician, and because Omaha is a smaller city, one of the great advantages of my practice is anonymity. Folks living with HIV who aren’t ready to be identified as such to the rest of the world, if seen here, could just as likely be seeing their family doc for anything.”
“We are training our family medicine residents to be able to manage HIV patients,” says Goodman, “Certainly with respect and understanding of limits, and the need for consultation when indicated. I also demystify HIV care to our medical students and rejoice when our students and patients form good, true care relationships, which sometimes has to happen one person at a time.” Goodman draws joy from caring for folks and watching as HIV becomes a less feared and more manageable illness. In comparison to the onset of the epidemic decades ago, it is a much more hopeful and optimistic time. Unfortunately, Goodman still sees enduring societal shame, judgement and stigma around the disease, and he sites this as his greatest obstacle in HIV care. As for his relationships with his patients, Goodman is not very parental. “My job is more of an advocate and an idea generator. I firmly believe that each of us is responsible for our own health. We each have to walk our own path.”
Looking ahead, Goodman is proud of the great strides that have been made towards bringing people living with HIV back into the community of humankind. “I look forward to the day when this is a truly manageable diagnosis that perhaps has no more social judgement than diabetes or hypertension. Wouldn’t that be amazing!”
Outside of his professional life, Goodman and his spouse Rick have been together for 22 years with a household of rescue dogs (three at this time), rich friendships, running (most recently two marathons; one in Howasa, Ethiopia and one in Lincoln, Nebraska), and growing his own food in a garden. He has become a humble devotee of Native American spiritual practice and draws much strength from his faith.
Asked why he is an AAHIVM Member, Dr. Goodman says, “AAHIVM has been a place for me to measure and advance my knowledge of HIV care and a place of fellowship for like-minded caregivers.”
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