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Elaine was, indeed, more than just a doctor

Many physicians say they can't encourage young people to go into medicine because changes are certain to come in the way they are paid, and in their autonomy.

But they're overlooking the personal rewards of medicine, especially family practice. No other profession offers both the opportunity to save lives and to connect one-on-one with thousands of people as a confidante and advisor over decades, even a lifetime.

Elaine McLaughlin, who died in a skydiving accident on Sunday, was that kind of doctor. She was my doctor and my friend for 25 years; her death has stunned and saddened thousands beyond my own family.

She was a female Marcus Welby, a doctor who never talked down to patients, who managed to make us all feel like  friends and family. She was always in overdrive -- riding a Harley, skydiving -- but as a reporter and fellow adrenaline junkie, I understood.

Her memorial service today will likely be packed. I'd better get there early.

--Health News Florida is an online publication dedicated to public service journalism. Contact Carol Gentry, Editor, at 727-410-3266 or  at

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.