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If you, like me, were wondering how a guy like Dr. Conrad Murray, who had not bothered keeping up with his studies enough to continue his certification as a cardiologist, could become the personal physician to the King of Pop, it's instructive to look at Dr. Jagat Narula.

Most of you won't know that name, but his career illuminates the gap between what the public expects when they see "Dr." in front of a person's name and what is often the reality.

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Think about what it takes to obtain a medical license. Some states' licensing boards will rubber stamp a license from another state but others, like California's, require a lot of hoops.

Then consider the case of Dr. Gregory Burnham Camp, who had licenses in California (No. 34329), Ohio (35-028433), North Carolina (36156) and Massachusetts. Why so many states?

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New York state has an interesting job that is foreign to most other states, the office of the Medicaid Inspector General. Lucky for health writers, the Inspector General there, James G. Sheehan, believes not only in rooting out people who are ripping off taxpayers, but in sharing his techniques and tactics with reporters.

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Dr. Steven A. Schroeder is distinguished professor of health and health care in the division of general internal medicine in the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also heads the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center. Between 1990 and 2002, he was president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Roberta Lee, M. D., is the vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine for the Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel's Continuum Center for Health and Healing in New York City. Previously, she served a seven-year stint as the medical director. In addition, she has a clinical practice in internal and integrative medicine. For the last five years, she has traveled regularly to Micronesia as the ethnomedical specialist in an interdisciplinary team of biologists, ethnobotanists, ecologists and conservationists. Her focus has been the traditional uses of kava.

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Dr. Robert K. Ross is president and CEO of The California Endowment, a $3.7 billion, private grant-making foundation established in 1996 to address the health needs of Californians. Prior to his appointment in September 2000, Ross served as director of San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency. Ross has an extensive background as a clinician and public health administrator.

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Peter J. Pronovost, MD, PhD is a practicing anesthesiologist and critical care physician, teacher, researcher, and international patient safety leader. Dr. Pronovost is a Professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Departments of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, and Surgery); in the Bloomberg School of Public Health (Department of Health Policy and Management) and in the School of Nursing. He is also Medical Director for the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care, which supports quality and safety efforts at the Johns Hopkins Hospitals. In 2003 Dr.

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Dr. Lisha Wilson is medical director of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. Clinics in San Francisco and Oakland. She has worked extensively with HIV/AIDS patients in the African-American community, especially women. Wilson formerly served as chief of the division of HIV services at Highland General Hospital in Oakland. She is board-certified in internal medicine and completed her residency at Highland General Hospital in 1993. She received her M.D. from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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Lawrence E. Kline is a commissioner for the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission, a binational organization working to optimize health and quality of life along the U.S.-Mexico border. Kline is board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, critical care medicine and sleep medicine. After serving as director of intensive care and assistant chief of medicine for the U.S. Public Health Service in New York, he joined Scripps Clinic Medical Group in 1978.

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Dr. Joseph Cassady is the public health officer for Yuba County and works with the Yuba County Health and Human Services Department.

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