On Being ‘Dr. Dad’

  • hiermedia
  • June 5, 2017

I take my 10-year-old son to school as many school days as possible. We recap events from the prior day, and I give him early morning pep talks. It is a rarity, however, that I pick him up from school. During one of those rare occasions, he got into the car, smiling as he handed me a project he completed in class. It was an assignment in which he was asked to introduce his hero to his classmates. To my delight and surprise, he chose me as his hero. He explained that he looked up to me, in part, because I am a doctor.

This moment affirmed my belief that being a doctor compliments my role as a father. Being a doctor makes me a better father. Equally, being a father makes me a better doctor. While I’ve had a decade to establish a healthy relationship with my son, in clinic, I must establish a doctor-patient relationship in a relatively short amount of time. Many patients come into the clinical encounter with problems they would not share with their closest confidante. During these candid conversations, they trust I will listen and not only have solutions for their complaints but remain objective and unbiased in the process. I incorporate these same skills while instructing and nurturing my children.

One such opportunity arose after a recent track meet when my son came in 7th place during the 100-m dash run. I could see his disappointment in his performance. I could also see the embarrassment he felt. After listening to him share his feelings of being intimidated by his competition, we problem-solved and discussed ways to improve his performance for the next race. Our solutions included spending additional time after practice working on his technique. His effort paid off; he had a faster time and came in 2nd place during the following track meet. Years of listening, searching for, and offering methodical solutions to my patients subsequently have improved my problem solving as a father.

Just like my patients, my son does not follow all of my instructions. He has challenges getting homework done in a timely fashion and most definitely has challenges keeping his room clean. Guiding him through life’s challenges has taught me how to remain cool and level headed even when I am feeling anything but. Techniques that work in parenting translate to my professional responsibilities. For example, I rely on the ability to speak clearly in language the patient can understand to facilitate conversations about the medical and surgical management of various disease processes. Keeping cool and level headed in a wide range of clinical situations ranging from treating a noncompliant patient to proficiently and dexterously completing a tough surgical procedure is a necessity in my profession. Being a father of an energetic and active son has definitely equipped me for comparably challenging situations that require the same quiet resolve in my surgical practice.

Despite all the ways being a father and a doctor complement each other, it is a challenge to do them both well and give them both the time they require. I am intent to take full advantage of the time I have with each, whether in the car going to school or in the office and operating room. Time is fleeting and I recognize my son is growing older much too fast. My patients have many medical and surgical needs that continue even after the office has closed for the day. Clearly, I am not able to be present at all times for both. Nonetheless, when I am with family or with a patient, my goal is to be fully present. I know my son has a better father and my patients have a better doctor because of the experiences I have with each of them. Ultimately, I know the conversations with my son during our time in the car provides motivation, inspiration, and encouragement that will help mold him into a better version of himself that will benefit his future children and maybe, just maybe, his very own patients.


  • Sharon

    Proud of you

  • Linda Latchaw
    Linda Latchaw

    Cedrek, I had you spotted the first day I met you as a new surgical resident at GHS. I was an old nurse not often impressed with the new “crop”. But every once in while one comes along. You have not disappointed me.(not that it was important to you.) Now you are not only a skillful compassionate surgeon but a father and community leader. I thank God for you.

    • Viki Long
      Viki Long

      πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌπŸ‘πŸΌ is definitely the best in his field!

  • Adria Dunn-Harris
    Adria Dunn-Harris

    Great words to help many people, if we’re willing to follow your example. Loving the blog.

  • Kit

    Love this post and the points you make about listening and coming up with solutions! Happy Father’s Day!

  • Peggy Geer
    Peggy Geer

    I just wanted to thank you again for being apart of Steve and my life. I feel that God placed you in our lives. Because you really were there for Steve because of all he went through. We tell everyone we talk to about you and how you were there for us. You are like family to us. And we remember when you invited us to your church. This is when we met you. And I follow you on twitter as you can see. I am proud of you for wanting to see others to follow you in becoming a part of the medical profession. Keep on doing what you do as a man of God, father , doctor and a friend to whoever needs one. Be blessed
    Steven, Peggy Geer and family

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