National Doctors' Day is March 30th. It was established to recognize physicians, their work and their contributions to society. Even though Doctors' Day wasn't officially signed into law until the early 1990s, it has been observed since the early 1930s. Alegent Creighton Health honors its physicians on National Doctors' Day—and one very special father-son team.
Charlie Youngblood. M.D., didn't have any plans to follow his father into medicine.
He had a Master's degree in English and Creative Writing. "I enjoyed life a lot," he says. "Then a friend asked me, ‘What have you always wanted to do?' I told him, ‘Be a doctor but I'm too old.' He said, ‘Just apply,' I did and I started med school at age 28."
He grew up watching his father, Frederick Youngblood, M.D., at work. "It was pretty cool. He would bring us in here, we'd put on scrubs and go into the operating room." He also watched his dad tend to the family's injuries. "He did all of our stitches," Dr. Charlie Youngblood says. One brother cut off the tips of his fingers in his bike spokes, Dr. Frederick Youngblood reattached them. Another brother cut off part of his ear when he was trapped in a supermarket door. Dad again came to the rescue.
"I didn't have any plans for any of them to follow me into medicine," Dr. Frederick Youngblood says. Today, one son is an engineer, another has a law degree, a third is a U.S. marshal and his daughter is a lobbyist. When his other son told him he was going to med school, "I told him he was out of his mind," the older Dr. Youngblood says.
"I followed my father into the Navy," Dr. Charlie Youngblood says. "Then I followed him into anesthesiology." The younger Dr. Youngblood was a general medical officer in combat in Iraq and in Afghanistan while his father is from the Vietnam era. Today Dr. Charlie Youngblood works side-by-side with his father at Alegent Creighton Health Creighton University Medical Center. "He makes me very proud," the older Dr. Youngblood smiles.
Dr. Charlie Youngblood says physicians often migrate to a specialty based on their personality. "We both have the same personality. We're pretty relaxed. Our job is stressful. An uptight person would have a harder time."
Father and son often consult with each other. "He serves as a resource for me," the older Dr. Youngblood says. "He's an expert in all the regional anesthesiology (which affects a large part of the body). He was trained in a different place with different people and has different techniques." The son leans on his father, too. "Not only can I draw on his expertise, I can draw on his experience."
Anesthesiology has changed dramatically in the 45 years the older Dr. Youngblood has been in medicine. "We've come light years on the gadgets," he says. "We have electronic equipment that monitors patients that much more closely. I can only wish I had it when I started." He says echocardiograms have become very sophisticated. "We can monitor every facet of a patient's physiology while they're under stress in surgery." The older Dr. Youngblood spends more time at the Creighton Pain and Management Center now and less in anesthesiology. He's 74 and going strong, "I'll reassess at 75 but I want to stay busy as long as my brain works. I might drop down a little bit one of these days." His son quickly adds: "I think he'd go crazy sitting at home."
The profession has been gratifying to both. "Pregnant ladies are especially happy to see us," the older Dr. Youngblood says. "We do the epidurals. I ran into a woman I administered an epidural to 20 years ago. She still thanks me every time she sees me." But Dr. Charlie Youngblood adds: "If we do our job really well, patients don't even remember us." He thinks back to that long-ago application to med school: "I made the right decision to go into medicine. We do a lot more than just put people to sleep. It's never boring."
Charlie has five children, just like his father did. They're one-and-a-half, four, seven, nine and 12 years old. Could there be future doctors in the group? "My oldest was actually talking the other day about being a doctor," Charlie says. "Then she said, ‘Nothing where I have to see a lot of blood.'"
Happy Doctors' Day and thank you to all of our Alegent Creighton Health and Alegent Creighton Clinic physicians for extending our healing mission to the communities we serve.