Certified Physician Development Coach
Diplomate—American Board of Family Medicine
Fellow—American Academy of Family Practice
Rather than recapitulating chronological experiences from
my resume, I thought I would start more personally and share
a different “Curriculum Vitae” of an experiential curriculum of
life lessons that have been vital to my personal purpose and
My earliest interest in health and healing began when I was about 4
years old. My father was very ill and throwing up. I could read the
concern on my mother’s face as she came from their bedroom to empty a
basin that clearly was bloody. I knew that blood was important and definitely serious when injury led to bleeding. I wanted to help. I wanted to help both my father’s illness and also help my mom’s concern. I wanted to know the where and why he was bleeding. I wanted to know specifically how to fix it. Little did I know then about gastritis or Mallory Weiss tears. It took years for me to appreciate the root causes of his dilemma that involved his wounds from WWII, PTSD, depression and alcoholic excess. It took him most of his adult lifetime to heal those wounds and psychic bleeding.
When I was 5 years old, I carelessly swung a metal band used to secure the lumber to build our new home. I swung it like the scythe I saw my grandpa use to cut tall grasses and laid open my left calf. My pediatrician, Dr Greathouse, sewed up my laceration and, with it miraculously anesthetized, allowed me to watch the whole procedure while he explained the anatomy and answered my continuing questions. I was fascinated. I marveled at how, with each suture the skin was brought together, the bleeding ebbed and finally stopped. I saw first hand how I could be broken and brought skillfully back to wholeness. Doctor Greathouse was my hero, and my teacher, and definitely a compassionate healer. I had the sense too that I was partner to this healing as I saw my wound knit together and heal over just a few days.
By the time I was 16 years old I was fairly certain that I wanted to study medicine and healing and become a physician. In college I found myself struggling with Catholic doctrine reflected in the catechism I had been taught, philosophy I was reading, and my evolving spirituality. I came across a quote attributed to Nietzsche that stated “God is through other people”. This became both an interim solution to my struggle and my mantra of service to others. Years later when I was engaging our leadership group to come up with a phrase that would encapsulate our core purpose I suggested “How can I help”. It became our organizational statement of purpose, worn on name badges and lapel pins, and an invitation to those we serve.
Early I learned that the essence of healing is caring taught to me by so many and in so many ways. I appreciate the goodness of the Work we do—Work with a capital “W”. As Medical Director, I had the opportunity to interview many prospective physicians, allied health professionals, staff, and administrators. I always wove into my recruitment interview the question “What do you consider to be your essential Work?” Sometimes I had to explain further “You know, what’s the string that connects all the beads of your professional ‘necklace’, beyond your stethoscope or notepad?” I particularly remember one beautiful person who paused a moment to ponder more thoughtfully her answer and then said warmly,
“To appreciate everyone’s goodness. Some days and with
certain people it is a little hard to find it—but it is always there,
and that’s where I start.” Her simple and profound answer
moved my heart and was exactly what we were looking for.
I wholeheartedly agree.
With interests spanning from surgery to medicine to psychiatry,
I naturally chose to specialize in Family Medicine. Now 57
years from my 16 year old youthful intention and 47 years in
the service of “How can I help”, I am still fascinated with the
science and heart of healing.. I marvel at how the clinical
knowledge content has expanded and changed through the
years. I appreciate ever more deeply that the effectiveness of
clinical interventions depends significantly on the quality of the
partnership between the patient and physician. The same is
true for all of our professional and personal relationships.
I will close with a few historical facts from my resume:
I graduated from Bellarmine University in Louisville KY with a degree in Biology/pre-med in 1968. I graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 1972 and completed my Family Practice Residency at University of California at Davis in 1975. I continued at UC—Davis as an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and held a joint appointment as Clinical Professor at Stanford University until 1979.
I then moved to Spokane WA to help start an HMO, Cooperative Health Plan, along with other colleagues.
I created an integrative, wholistically oriented, primary care practice in 1981 called Wellness Associates. Partners included Family Practitioners, Physician Assistant, Psychotherapists, Family Therapists, Nutritionist, Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine Practitioner, and Massage Therapists.
After 7 years at Wellness Associates, I moved to Seattle to join the teaching faculty at Providence Medical Center Family Medicine Residency.
In 1990, I joined Highline Medical Group, affiliated with Highline Medical Center and soon became the Medical Director of what came to be a multi-specialty group for the next 23 years.
I retired as Medical Director at Highline in 2013 after helping their transition to CHI/Franciscans’ Medical Group.
Since 2013, I have served as a consultant to individuals and medical groups in the areas of physician leadership, patient centered communications, physician coaching, leadership coaching, clinical systems, and nutritional medicine.
My mantra and mission continues to be: