and I— I took the one less traveled by , And that has made all the difference.
The words above by Robert Frost have always held a special meaning for me. I would say that, yes, I have repeatedly chosen pathways that may have been more difficult to travel, but in the end probably more rewarding. I was born in 1958 to third generation French Canadian immigrants in a Rhode Island mill town. By the age of five or six my family had relocated to Pensacola, Florida where I grew up enjoying barefoot summers, woodlands to explore and beautiful undiscovered gulf coast beaches. I remember pondering my options one cold day on the sixth grade playground; and for the first time considered the possibility of becoming a doctor. Above all else I knew I wanted (or needed) the opportunity of helping my fellow man. At any rate schooling continued and the years passed. Within a year of graduating from High School while working in a sandwich shop without a definite career plan awaiting me an unsolicited scholarship arrived in the mail from Boston University. I had taken the routine and mandatory SAT exams without any special preparation or even full understanding of significance of the exam scores. The scholarship was part of a program to search out promising students from rural areas of the country based on SAT scores. I had not applied to any Universities.
The move to Boston was a life-changing event for me. I had left behind a small southern enclave to begin to look out upon a much, much larger world. As I began my university career I came to one of many forks in the road – would I chose to pursue literature or would I chose science. I loved both fields. Again, the choice became determined by considering which path would allow me to most directly and significantly help other humans. For this same reason upon graduating from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City my choice of specialization in Family Medicine and Preventative Primary Care was also clear. Most of my fellow medical students had elected specialization choices based on potential income, workload and on-call demands. Family Medicine is a more difficult branch of medicine in the aspects of breadth of knowledge, commitment to on-going care of patients and development of the psychological and spiritual skills to truly encourage healing.
Residency training was completed at the University of California, San Diego and I began to work for the Kaiser Permanente Group in the area. In my thirties I began to study Spanish in part because a second language fascinated me and in part because the need of bilingual doctors in an increasingly bilingual nation was very evident in San Diego. The acquisition of a second language was probably more difficult than the acquisition of a medical license. I actually moved to Tijuana across the border from San Diego in order to achieve fluency crossing the border each day in a lengthy commute to work. However, this choice has enriched me beyond calculation. This was another life changing event reminiscent of my move from a small rural town to an educational and cultural center such as Boston. I am proud of these difficult choices and thankful of the benefits that I have reaped.
After approximately fifteen years in San Diego I, again, came to a crossroads. Should I take a leap of faith leaving behind the security of my Kaiser Permanente position in order to establish my own practice offering patients a more personalized care experience? Ultimately, the right decision was made and I have now been practicing in the Austin area since 2001.
I would sum up the philosophy of my practice as concerned accommodation. Above all else I will support a patient’s right to self-determination. I view my work as that of a teacher and guide. I hope to supply my patients with the benefits of knowledge and my years of experience in order that each individual may make their own informed decisions. I try to know when not to get in the way. My practice is open to all without any taint of discrimination. We attempt to offer the widest scope of practice possible allowing our patients to access all that “traditional” western medicine has to offer as well as promoting alternative therapies many with foundations in the East. I have come to understand that no particular therapy- western, eastern or otherworldly – consistently functions well for everyone, but with some patience and effort one form of therapy or combinations of therapies will almost always result in a positive impact on health. My practice incorporates the use of acupuncture, hypnotherapy, prolotherapy, yoga, herbal medicine and chiropractic care to mention a few. Laughter works well most of the time, too. And just for clarity, let me reassure you that I have been continuously certified by the American Board of Family Medicine since completing my training in 1988 – all the more traditional therapies are available as well.
On another note I would like to let anyone interested know that my professional attitude is inseparably intertwined with my own personal orientation towards life:
“Mens Sana in Corpore Sano”
I am not particularly interested in organized sports (although I am a UT fan now and then wearing my burnt orange scrubs to work ), but have always been a regular exerciser concerned with my own fitness and of the belief that healthcare providers have almost an obligation to set an example. I combine aerobic exercise such as a treadmill and stepper with swimming, biking and yoga. Tennis and skiing have been more occasional favorites. I am very mindful of my diet which is predominantly vegetarian for both physical and philosophical reasons.
For mental stimulation and challenge I am of the opinion that the arts and travel (especially outside one’s comfort zone) are among the best things in life. I have also developed a small library in my home which is an unending source of inspiration and productive diversion. Outside of medicine I am studying French hoping to recreate the phenomenal change and personal growth that I experienced with the mastery of Spanish. Although I was raised Catholic and received my first eight years of education in a Catholic school of which I am thankful, my spiritual inclinations have become Buddhist. I aspire to the humbleness, gentleness and compassion as emphasized in Buddhism.
Yours in health,
Dr. Keith Lamy