The Science Side of Medicine

Dr. Richard Sharpe, Jr.

While patient experience is central to any successful practice, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the practice of medicine is an applied science. And it’s this science side of medicine that attracted Dr. Richard Sharpe, Jr. to the field of radiology.

“I’ve always liked the kind of analytical, systematic part of science,” says Dr. Sharpe, radiologist and department value advisor at Colorado Permanente Medical Group (CPMG). “And, of course, I also really enjoy working with people. So when I started medical school, I realized that all the things I enjoyed were essential to radiology: chemistry, physics, technology, spatial reasoning, interpersonal communication, relationship building – all of that. It was a perfect fit, really.”

Apart from enjoying organic chemistry when most of his peers hated it and a lifelong passion for computers, the moment that stands out most in Dr. Sharpe’s journey to radiology occurred while at Georgetown University, where he studied both medicine and earned his MBA.

“I started doing some research when I was at Georgetown on radiology and, in particular, women’s imaging. Not only did I find it completely fascinating – it’s exciting to be able to look inside a person to find out what’s going on and figure out how to help them – but I also realized it was an opportunity to make a huge difference in the patient’s care. For me, that really sealed the deal.”

Experience Is the Key to Patient Experience

A good patient care experience starts with the very first interaction. This is where rapport is established and trust is built. For Dr. Sharpe, he learned how to engage people at a very young age, and future events only enriched his experiential database.

“My family owned a retail business in a fairly economically depressed area of Maryland, which I started managing when I was 13. I learned to read my customers – how to engage and understand them. So when I went to college at Georgetown and Harvard, I was interacting with an entirely different range of people, socioeconomically and educationally.

“I use these skills in my practice every day. I listen to my patients and read their body language, but then can draw from the wide range of experiences to better understand and engage with them – regardless of age, economic status or education level – and use that knowledge to craft a message that will ultimately lead them to better health.”

CPMG Exceeding Expectations  

After finishing a Breast Imaging Fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Sharpe interviewed with a dozen medical groups across the country – but found his fit at CPMG, where the physicians care for the members of Kaiser Permanente.

“I think what attracted me most to CPMG was the opportunity to deliver high-quality care in an efficient practice and the idea of having systems that were integrated and could help us, as providers, deliver better patient care and improve population health. It just seemed like a place where I could practice medicine, put my business and hospital administration education to use, and pursue my interest in the science and technology. Honestly, it’s done that – and more.” 

To learn more about how a career at CPMG has allowed Dr. Sharpe to explore his interests and follow his passion, click here.

To learn more about working for CPMG, click here.