Physicians Finding Purpose

Learn why these physicians chose to find their purpose.

Work-Life Balance

Learn more how Sleep Medicine Specialist Eric Hernandez, MD, PhD ended up in his medical specialty and how he and his family have found their purpose living and working in Willmar and serving the community.

Turning Point

I come from a family of elementary school teachers, so initially I wanted to be a teacher. When I was in first grade, I wanted to teach first grade. When I was a second grader, I wanted to be a second-grade teacher. But as I got older, I became more interested in science. Still, I always enjoyed working with kids. So somewhere in a latter elementary school, I decided that being a pediatrician could combine all of those things.

Then I got to college and so admired my professors and the skill sets they had to teach that I thought, “Well, maybe this is what I want to do.”

I struggled between my desire to be a professor and a physician, so I applied to and was accepted to grad school and med school. Right after graduating from college, though, I was an aide at a hospital and I met a little girl with childhood cancer. She reminded me that medicine combined both of my passions for kids and teaching.

I always try to remember that I’m just one of billions of human beings living on this planet, and of no more importance than the others. I truly believe that any one of these billions of people have the ability to do amazing things for our planet and for the people on it. And so, my manifesto is that I’m just trying to do what I can, and medicine and teaching seem to be my path.

Jill L. Amsberry, DO, CentraCare – Plaza Clinic Pediatrics

Grounded In Purpose

I think I’ve always wanted to leave the earth a better place than where it was before I interacted with it. And I’ve always been driven to have a higher sense of purpose. I’m one of those all-in kind of people. So, I really truly want to be sure that I’ve left some kind of legacy when I’m gone, that I have made a positive impact and made a difference in this world — because we truly have one life on earth and we have to make it count.

In today’s world of social media and always doing your highlight reel, we forget that we’ve all have struggles and we’ve all been there. For me, I chose to not let my depression win. It’s part of my story and it is truly the reason I went into medicine because I truly felt like in that moment that I didn’t know my purpose and I didn’t know even why I was supposed to continue to exist on this earth. But I was darn determined to figure out what it was.

I’m blessed that our clinic has always had “the patient comes first” as our culture. So, it’s really easy to re-ground into that purpose of just taking care of your patient. I do think medicine is stressful and it’s really easy also to become overwhelmed. Having a healthy outlet is really important for me. And so, I ended up falling in love with running, which no one would have guessed if they knew me five years ago. I lost a dare to my husband in 2016 and that has just been a godsend for me. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, to be able to put some miles on the road or on the trail is the perfect way to recenter. A friend of mine and I talk about how it’s almost a form of church when we’re out there. I’m a solo runner. Running is my time to recenter and reconnect to earth, to spirit, to mind and body.

Maria Loerzel, MD, Family Medicine, Carris Health – Willmar Lakeland Clinic

Passion and Honor

The passion to practice day-after-day is not one of those things that just happens in an instant, but it happens over the progress of time. I really believe it is an honor to do what I do. This is part of my life and not just a job. I hope I never get to a point where I don’t feel that honor when I sit with a patient and talk about what’s going on in their life. If I can help them then I’ll do it, whether it’s removing an ingrown toenail or figuring out why they’ve had night sweats and unexpected weight loss over the last six months. It’s really just a great, great privilege and opportunity to do what I do.

There are times in the busy-ness of our day when I have to take a deep breath before I go in to be with a patient. Whatever their reason is for seeing me — whether it is the most serious I’ve had all day or not — it’s really important to them and I need to make sure that I am present for that.

Libby M. Brever, MD, Family Medicine, CentraCare – Albany Clinic

Staying Grounded

My father was a family medicine doctor and his father was a family medicine doctor, and they worked together in a small practice in a farming community in Northern Colorado. My grandfather was actually grandfathered into family medicine. He started practicing prior to it existing as a specialty. But he came from the origins of what it meant to be a family medicine doctor. You really were part of the community and you took care of the entire community, as well.

As a physician in a small community, the community as a whole becomes your patient — not just those patients sitting in your exam room. Seeing that kind of firsthand as a child growing up, I think made a very strong impression upon me about how I see medicine and how I want to practice medicine.

It would be Pollyanna-ish to say there are not frustrations. There are absolutely things we need to work on. For me, what helps me stay grounded is the idea that I’m in a unique position and I’ve been entrusted by my patients and this community with this task of trying to help them be healthy. And move through these stages of life. There are a very few professions that are entrusted with the type of responsibility. We have to be mindful and respectful that the community looks at us this way and realize it’s an honor to be able to work for our patients.

Sean P. Wherry, MD, Family Medicine, CentraCare – St. Joseph Clinic

A Pivotal Moment

I grew up in rural North Dakota in a little tourist town and I was really blessed to be surrounded by people who saw my gifts. I remember my grandfather saying when I was little, “You’re going to be a doctor someday when you grow up.” I think that got in my head and just stuck.

When I was in residency, a young Sudanese man was a patient of mine. He had cancer. We had diagnosed him with a lymphoma and I could not get through to him. It was like he was not taking it very seriously or didn’t understand. I called this meeting with interpreters and elders when he was in the hospital and I said, “This is cancer. You could die from this.” What I didn’t understand is what he then told me. He said, “Where I come from, I have watched my brothers and my sisters die,” he said, “This isn’t nothing.”

It was not that he was not understanding me. It was that I was not understanding him.

Kimberly L. Tjaden, MD, Family Medicine, CentraCare – St. Cloud Medical Group South

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