Michael Schatman is Executive Director of the Foundation for Ethics in Pain Care in Bellevue, Washington. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Pain Research.
What inspired you to become a healthcare provider?
I was pre-law throughout college at Columbia and was set to go to law school. I decided at the last moment to run away to Oregon to pick mushrooms and throw a Frisbee. There, at a party, I met a doctoral student in clinical psychology, who told me to become a shrink. It sounded like it would beat working for a living.
Why did you focus on pain management?
Our department also had a doctoral program in behavioral medicine, which appealed to me. I was lucky enough during my 3rd year to get a half-time practicum at the Texas Back Institute, which was at the forefront of interdisciplinary pain management. I haven’t looked back!
Who were your mentors?
I’ve had several mentors. As a pain bioethicist, Jim Giordano taught me that I didn’t need to be angry to be principled. As a writer and editor, Mac Gallagher taught me the value of rapprochement. As a bourbon drinker, John Peppin taught me everything I know.
If you weren't a healthcare provider, what would you be?
Believe it or not, I’d probably be a personal injury plaintiff’s attorney. In my current job(s), patient advocacy is central. Doing a good amount of personal injury medicolegal work, I have come to recognize that at least a minority of personal injury attorneys are principled individuals who are truly invested in advocating for their clients. Go figure.
What is your most marked characteristic?
As an editor, I have a reputation of knowing very little yet being able to convince people much smarter than am I to engage in projects that make me look good.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Without a doubt, being named the American Society of Pain Educators’ 2011 Clinical Pain Educator of the Year. I had a “Rocky moment,” and wish I’d known someone named Adrienne, as I would have held up my plaque and said, “Yo Adrienne—I did it!”
What is your favorite language?
All 5 of the 5 languages of love.
If you had to choose one book, one film, and one piece of music to take into space for an undetermined amount of time, what would they be?
The book would be Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, as I’d probably sell my soul to the devil to create a new pain treatment paradigm in the United States. The movie would be a Kubrick piece—perhaps A Clockwork Orange—as it blends psychology with a tastefully unhealthy combination of sex and violence. The piece of music would be John Mayer’s Neon because it reminds me of the woman I love.
What would you like your legacy to be?
I’d truly like to be one of the individuals responsible for the paradigm change in American pain medicine, participating in the transformation of pain medicine from a “business” to a “profession.”
What is your motto?
“Salud, dinero, y amor, y tiempo a gustarlos!” Spanish for “Health, money, and love, and the time to enjoy them!” (Okay, it’s a toast, not a motto.)