This month marks my 40th year of practicing medicine. I think back to my childhood living in Milwaukee, Wisc. with a father who was a family doctor in a solo practice on call 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week. Our home phone rang day and night and Dad frequently left his comfortable home and much-needed sleep to go make a house call, admit someone to the hospital, or deliver a baby
I remember going with Dad on house calls, hospital rounds, and helping him treat patients in his office, which was conveniently located on the first floor of the duplex where we lived. I was absolutely fascinated by my early immersion into the practice of medicine.
I also heard stories about my Grandpa Hollenbeck who was also a family doctor in the early 1900s and how he made house calls in a horse and buggy and often accepted chickens and garden produce as payments for his services. Grandpa’s brother, Henry Stanley Hollenbeck was a medical missionary in Angola Africa. He was named after the famous English journalist Henry Stanley who searched the African jungles for Dr. Livingston “I presume.” I heard fascinating tales of him practicing medicine in the remote jungles. With these influences I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a doctor.
After graduating from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1971, I headed to sunny San Jose, Calif., to do an internship at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. I found a calling in Emergency Medicine and stayed there as an emergency physician for almost 10 years. I then had an opportunity through the Christian Medical Society to go to Honduras in Central America, where I spent two years practicing medicine in the jungles along the Caribbean Coast working with the native Miskito Indians. Being the only Caucasian English speaking person within a 50-mile radius, living without electricity or running water and being among those wonderful people was one of the highlights of my life.
From Central America I returned home to California and began a career in the new field of urgent care medicine. I found this form of practice much to my liking and ended up working for the Santa Cruz Medical Clinic when it opened up its first satellite clinic in Scotts Valley. We opened our doors there on March 1, 1987 and I’ve been there ever since. I am privileged to work with a team of outstanding physicians at our Palo Alto Medical Foundation as well as a fantastic support staff made up of medical assistants, patient service representatives, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and medical technicians.
What I love most about my current practice are the wonderful patients with whom I have had the privilege to treat. Having been here in Scotts Valley for the past 26 years, I have become quite familiar with many patients in our locale. I’m now taking care of people in their 20’s and 30’s who I first took care of when they were babies or toddlers. I feel that I have grown up, and older, with many of my patients over the years. I’ve shared in their joys and their sorrows.
It is a tremendous honor and pleasure to continue working with such wonderful patients. To be able to improve health, alleviate suffering and to sometimes save lives, is the ultimate of satisfaction for me. So thank you to all my patients for the privilege of working with you which makes me want to continue practicing medicine for as long as I am able to do so.- Terry Hollenbeck, M.D., is an urgent-care physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation Santa Cruz in Scotts Valley. Readers can view his previous columns on his website, valleydoctor.wordpress.com, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information in this column is not intended to replace advice from your own health care professional. For any medical concern, consult your own doctor.