The AIDS Epidemic in San Francisco: The Response of Community Physicians, 1981-1984, Vol. I
I Education and Early Career
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Dr. Campbell, would you start with where you were born and educated?
I was born in South Bend, Indiana, and went to undergraduate school at Yale, class of '58; medical school at Columbia, class of '62. I interned at San Francisco General [Hospital] and did my residency in internal medicine at UC San Francisco.
Choosing San FranciscoHughes
Why San Francisco?
Everybody said San Francisco was such a wonderful city. I came here in the fall of my fourth year  of medical school, just to see what California was all about and to have internship interviews. I applied to various hospitals in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and the computer just spewed out "San Francisco General," although I think I had mixed feelings about it. I was sort of hoping to stay in New York. But then I realized that San Francisco was a much easier lifestyle than New York, and it seemed less competitive. So I was glad to stay here.
You made the decision not so much on medical terms, but on quality of life?
Definitely. It wasn't really for advancement of a medical career. I had a lot of friends in New York and I very, very much liked New York, but I saw San Francisco as a town that might be just as good. But for the first two years, I just kept comparing it to New York in kind of a negative way, and then I finally said, "Well, I've just got to stay in one town." So I decided to stay in San Francisco, because it seemed like the programs available to me would be better here.
Were you thinking professionally?
Internship, San Francisco General Hospital, 1962-1963Hughes
What did you find at San Francisco General [SFGH] when you arrived?
I thought it was like a country club, compared to Bellevue [Hospital, New York City]. We had rotated to Bellevue for a couple of months in fourth year [medical school], and it just seemed like a real zoo. [telephone interruption] The patient population at San Francisco General Hospital was more like the population that one would see at the Presbyterian Hospital in New York, which was kind of middle class. I had fully expected to see a real derelict population at SFGH.
Because it was a county hospital?
Because it was a county hospital.
The first time I ever arrived in San Francisco , I stayed in the YMCA on Turk Street, and I thought, Well, gee, this isn't a bad neighborhood at all--not knowing that this was not one of the best neighborhoods. I just couldn't get over the fact that I didn't see poverty in San Francisco, compared to New York. And it seemed like apartment rents were so cheap. Everything was just easier than in New York.
In those days, there wasn't a strikingly poor subgroup?
I think there was, but after having spent two months at Bellevue, and riding the subways every day in New York, the
What happened next?
I went into the service in 1963, because I was drafted. It wasn't one of the things I wanted to do; I went to Korea for a year. Then I came back to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, which I loved because it was New York.
Residency, Internal Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, 1965-1968Campbell
I had misgivings about going back to San Francisco for my residency, but I did it, and I stayed here. Then I got to like San Francisco better and better. I stopped comparing it to New York.
Do you want to comment on your residency?
It was at UCSF and San Francisco General in internal medicine. Then I took a year of fellowship in endocrinology and psychosomatic disease. Then I went into private practice.
Which had always been your goal?
Not always, but it just seemed that I was moving in the direction of something general. I wasn't attracted very much to the clinical subspecialties or doing a lot of medical procedures. I preferred patient contact.
Why had you chosen psychosomatic medicine as an interest?
When I was in the service at Fort Hamilton, I treated many patients with psychosomatic problems, and felt that addressing the psyche was as important as physical exam and laboratory tests. I was quite effective in that type of work. Later I rotated through psychiatry for a couple of months when I was a resident. I liked those two months better than any of the others. So I felt that that was something I would like to do, but then I'm sort of glad I didn't go into psychiatry. I think that it's a difficult field.
Well, I was always interested in it. At that time most medical residents felt that they really needed a subspecialty to survive in private practice in California. Endocrinology wasn't one of those subspecialties that involved a lot of procedures, like cardiology. I had worked in chemistry labs before, and I enjoyed that type of work.
Private Practice in Internal Medicine, 1969-presentHughes
When did you set up your practice?
I went into practice in 1969 with Wayne Bayless. He had a very attractive practice because of the nice distribution of patients. He had a number of gay patients, some young patients, some old patients, and he was a wonderful person to work with. I feel very blessed because that opportunity came up when it did. It was too good to have passed up. We remained in practice together until he retired in 1987.
So a long association.
Yes, and it was a very, very good association.
Courtesy of Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley
Title: The AIDS Epidemic in San Francisco: The Response of Community Physicians, 1981-1984, Vol. I
By: Sally Smith Hughes
Contributing Institution: Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley
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