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Area physician reflects on changes

Dr. Carey McMonagle

By Olivia Goudy


After nearly four decades as a family practitioner, a Uniontown doctor is looking forward to retirement.

“I’m easing into retirement. I don’t have any structure or firm plans,” Dr. Carey McMonagle said with a laugh.

For 38 years, McMonagle served the Fayette County area. For years, his practice was located in a Cherry Tree Lane building.

“I developed friendships much beyond the causal practice of medicine. What a great privilege it is, and has been,” he said.

McMonagle recalled his early days in medicine. His educational career included stops at Saint Vincent College near Latrobe and medical school in Philadelphia. He also interned at Mercy Hospital in 1975, where he finished his residency.

In 1979, he began his career in Uniontown.

“It was and still is exciting. It was a great opportunity to come to Uniontown,” he said, adding that he met his wife, Suzanne, there when she was a nurse.

“When I came here, I had a full practice almost immediately because of the need for physicians at the time. There was a great kindness offered to me.”

In those 38 years, medicine has seen its fair share of changes.

“Medical, as in any other field, has evolved vastly over a number of years,” McMonagle said. “There are specialized and different approaches now,” he said.

When McMonagle began his career, computers weren’t used. Even practices that now seem normal, like MRIs and CT scans, weren’t invented yet.

“Electronic filing didn’t exist. Everything was handwritten, particularly in small towns like this,” McMonagle recalled. “Specialists only came in maybe one day a week, so the practitioner was very much alone with the availability to consult with colleagues.”

“It’s changed considerably,” he added. “Medicine is done by computer now. It’s become impersonal — all computerized.”

Looking back on his time in the field, though, McMonagle said he was fortunate.

“Direct patient contact is what fulfilled me the most, and offered me the most enjoyment,” he said.

McMonagle said there was a reaffirmation on a daily basis of what medicine and his patients meant to him.

In his retirement, though, he said he looks forward to traveling. “I missed a lot in Fayette County,” he said, adding that he’d like to explore the sites around here. He also plans to spend time and resources with Saint Vincent College — a place that still means a lot to him.

Continuing education is also on his horizon, as he plans to take some college courses to obtain a liberal arts education.

With a laugh, he said he also looks forward to reading something other than technical medical items.

For those following in his footsteps, McMonagle offers these simple words of advice: “Go for it.”

“It’s still about the simplicity of the patient and the caregiver, and wanting to maintain the one-on-one relationship,” he said.

“The newer generation will do well,” he added. “If this is their desire and capability, that’s great. It’s been a very rewarding, wonderful experience.”