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Allen J. Dozor, MD, FCCP, FAAP

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Specialty: Pediatric Pulmonology

Title: Chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy, Immunology, and Sleep Medicine, Boston Children’s Health Physicians

Hospital: Westchester Medical Center

 

For Dr. Allen Dozor, the close relationships many doctors shy away from forming with severely ill patients are the biggest positives of what is at times a trying profession. “In my opinion, too many physicians are taught, perhaps inadvertently, that becoming emotionally involved risks the loss of objectivity, and that is a fair concern,” says Dozor, a leading pediatric pulmonologist at Westchester Medical Center. “But, on a personal level, those physicians who remain uninvolved are missing the best part of our job.”

Dozor’s first memory of such a physician traces back to his earliest years. “We had a wonderful family doctor when I was growing up who was invited to every important event in our family: weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals,” recalls Dozor. “He really was part of the family. We lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia but traveled a long distance to see him and waited sometimes for hours for his care. That memory has stuck with me my whole life.”

And with his expansive roster of medical work, Dozor has ample time to build such bonds. He has worked with Boston Children’s Health Physicians, as well as Westchester Medical Center and New York Medical College, for more than 30 years, and he is currently the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy, Immunology, and Sleep Medicine for all three institutions. “Our division is by far the largest such division in New York State,” notes Dozor, “and one of the largest in the nation. We care for over 15,000 children each year.”

In addition, Dozor is Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center of the Hudson Valley and Director of the Armond V. Mascia, MD, Cystic Fibrosis Center, as well as an Associate Physician-in-Chief of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “I divide my time between clinical care, teaching, and research,” explains Dozor, who also serves as professor of both pediatrics and clinical public health at New York Medical College.

Even with this mountain of responsibilities, forming close bonds with patients remains central to Dozor’s life and work. One such patient was Olivia*, a baby Dozor did everything he could to aid but who died a couple of months before her first birthday. Dozor grew so close to Olivia’s family that he was asked to speak at the funeral, during which literature was distributed calling Dozor her “champion” and “the only doctor who rooted [Olivia] on.”

“Becoming emotionally involved means opening myself to sorrow and personal loss when the battle is lost; I am still in pain to think that perhaps I failed them or just wasn’t good enough,” shares Dozor. “Occasionally, parents are angry with me, but the vast majority of the time, my reward is to go to a child’s wake or funeral, hug parents, and be thanked for all of my hard work. I’ve tried so hard to be there for my patients, and the emotional rewards far outweigh the sadness and regret. Olivia’s parents, like so many others, are wonderful, and I’m so honored they permitted me to care for their precious baby and them in their time of need.”

It is this emotional interplay that also motivates Dozor to continue his work. “I mourn, but always get back on the horse,” he says. “No matter how tired or stressed I may be, all I have to do is to stop for a few minutes and watch a child just being a child, and my fatigue is gone in an instant.”


 

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