I was born and raised in Colorado. I was especially close with my grandmother and spent much of my childhood listening to stories she told about her life and journeys. She had emigrated with her husband and children from East Germany to West Germany then to the United States. Maybe because of that I was always interested in foreign countries and languages. In my youth I played high-level soccer and traveled all over the U.S., Europe, and China. After college, I joined the Army to attend the Defense Language Institute, where I studied Russian. When I came home from the Army I was surprised with the changes in my grandmother. She had developed Alzheimer's. Over the next several years I took care of her and saw firsthand how dementia was treated. This motivated me to enter medical school to become a geriatrician. I was accepted into medical school one week exactly before my grandmother died. Thanks to her, I found my true calling in life.
A geriatrician is an internal medicine physician who specializes in care of the elderly. (Think opposite of a pediatrician.) My fervent passion has always been to advocate for the elderly. My philosophy, like that of Kaiser Permanente, is that quality of care and time with patients is the most important part of medicine. I have gravitated toward work that allows me to spend the time I feel that’s needed for each patient I see. I worked for several years in the hospital overnights where I was able to advocate for better treatment for the elderly. Nighttime can be especially confusing for demented patients, who can become delirious in an unfamiliar environment. With my guidance, we improved care for the elderly in the hospital setting. I also enjoy working in long-term care facilities (nursing homes). I enjoy the patient population and staff so much it doesn't feel like work at all.
My greatest joy is spending time with my family and friends. Our newest addition is our godson. He makes me laugh every day and fills my heart and soul. I am so fortunate that my soccer teammates from my youth are still in touch, and we try to see each other as often as 11 or so people can coordinate schedules. When time permits, I love to travel and experience new cultures and languages. My family and I were fortunate to go on safari in Africa a couple of years ago. We traveled through Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. In addition to the Big Five (lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros), we saw many animals we didn't even know existed. A highlight for me was shark-cage diving with great whites in Shark Alley off the coast of South Africa. I enjoyed Africa so much that six months later I went back to Kenya and did volunteer medical work in the town of Eldoret.