Pain medicine physician on his unexpected expertise and desire to do good
CMS member Ken Finn, MD, is board-certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR), Pain Medicine, and Pain Management, and he is the incoming president to the American Board of Pain Medicine, where he has served on their Exam Council and Board of Directors for several years. He has been involved with the Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Pain Society, and the El Paso County Medical Society Board of Directors.
Originally from Queens, N.Y., and raised in north New Jersey, he was awarded an undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School-Houston. He completed his residency in PMR at the University of Utah and has been practicing in Colorado Springs since then.
Q: Why did you choose medicine and what’s your favorite aspect of it?
A: I gravitated to medicine from an early age, despite my (very) brief interest in biomedical engineering, and actually did not intend to become a Pain Medicine physician. Pain Medicine is challenging yet frequently rewarding. The feeling of alleviating a human’s suffering is the most rewarding aspect of this field. I have also had the opportunity to do medical mission work in South America and Africa. The “paying it forward” mentality runs strong in my family, and I would strongly encourage young doctors and medical providers to consider medical mission work early in their careers, due to the rewards gained. Practicing medicine in raw form does not happen in this day and age of managed care, particularly in the face of our current pandemic. It is simply you and your patient (and likely a translator) and your desire to help. No managed care, no paperwork, no billing headaches, and no prior authorizations!
Q: How do you make a difference in medicine?
A: Making a difference in medicine can be difficult; however, I am proud of my accomplishments, not only in my local and state community but internationally. I have become an international subject matter on cannabis, although it was never my intention. I was editor of the first medical-grade textbook on cannabis in the United States: Cannabis in Medicine: An Evidence-based Approach, published August 2020. It involved over 70 authors from four countries and 20 chapters, and took a lot of time, but felt it was timely and necessary. Many of the authors are from our great state of Colorado. I would like to see this book as a reference guide in every single medical school around the world.
Q: Why is advocacy important to you?
A: Advocacy, particularly in the cannabis space, is important because cannabis use has become a serious public health and safety threat, following the path of tobacco, alcohol and opioids, with our most vulnerable at risk. Interestingly, one of the most recent books I read was “Pot Safari” published in 1982. Its author, Peggy Mann, was a journalist who visited all of the major research of the time and compiled it into an easy-to-read book. It has stuck with me because the data from 40 years ago is just as relevant now as it was then, and the data in that book was not unlike what is in my book, which surprised me. Peggy unfortunately passed away many years ago, but I have been able to connect with her daughters, who graciously asked me to write the forward to the reprint of their mom’s pertinent work. Protecting our communities’ mental and physical health is important to me.
Q: What other things might colleagues not know about you?
A: I am a closet foodie. Despite my ongoing interest in staying in shape through exercise and healthy diet, I love food. Good food. All kinds of food, but not fast food. I have been married nearly 30 years to the same person and have two wonderful adult children who make me proud every day. I try to do good every day.
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