Dr. Larry Martinelli and other ID physicians in private clinical practice focus on patient care, expecting to see a broad spectrum of infectious diseases in outpatient and inpatient settings. ID specialists can play a major role in antibiotic formulary selection, hospital infection control and employee health, and local community infectious disease issues.
Private PracticeLubbock, Texas
Larry Martinelli, MD, never felt the desire to “own an organ.” While many of his medical school colleagues were narrowly focusing their futures on specific body systems and functions, he found himself drawn to a specialty that required big-picture thinking. “In infectious diseases, we don’t have a specific body system or organ that’s ours,” he explains. “We have to deal with everything—the whole patient, all the organs, everywhere they’ve been, everything they’ve done. Wwe maintain a very broad knowledge base. And we eventually interact with all the medical subspecialties, even surgical. At some point, every specialty needs help from ID.”
A graduate of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Dr. Martinelli completed his internal medicine training at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Denver and an infectious diseases fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is a partner in a three-physician infectious diseases practice in Lubbock, Texas, and clinical assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. A tireless volunteer, he recently received an IDSA Society Citation for his dedication and exemplary service to the field of infectious diseases.
Dr. Martinelli most enjoys the variety and detective work that characterize private practice in ID. Take, for example, a case early in his career when he was asked to examine a woman who had been scratched by her dog about 18 hours earlier. “When I saw her, her arm was literally rotting off,” he says, adding that other physicians were baffled by the condition. “I looked at her arm, got a quick history, and realized it had to be group A strep. They all looked at me like I was nuts.”
But he wasn’t. Even though necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease, was a relatively unknown condition at the time, Dr. Martinelli recognized it. The woman was rushed into surgery based on his diagnosis. She survived. “It’s cases like that where you either figure it out quickly or the patient is going to die,” he says. “ID is about solving the mysteries. It’s figuring out the really complex, difficult cases when nobody else has a clue what’s going on. You put it all together, and the light bulb comes on. That’s what I love about this job.”
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Choosing a subspecialty is the most important career decision for a medical resident. If you are looking for intellectual challenge, job satisfaction, and a wide range of career options, consider infectious diseases, a rewarding specialty with a historic place in medicine.
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