“The long road of medicine is full of constant learning, so I have remained on it. The financial expense was unbearable at times but its only money. The long hours were brutal early on in surgery but now I absolutely love sunrise and cherish a good night’s sleep. And a life in medicine taught me to cherish every single moment in life, bar none. You have no idea what might happen tomorrow.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr Paul Turek, urologist, microsurgeon and preeminent men’s health specialist. As a retired full professor at UCSF having published 200 research papers and now in private practice in San Francisco, Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley. Dr Turek has experienced the entire gamut of modern American medicine. And he still loves it!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was a child of an immigrant family from what was then Czechoslovakia. My father was a blacksmith in the old country and a welder in America. I knew that I would be some kind of craftsmen. I chose surgery.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I loved all of medicine. In medical school, when I was deciding between internal medicine and surgery I did sub-internships in both areas of medicine in the intensive care units. In the medical ICU 2/3 of patients entered but never left alive. In the surgical ICU most patients left and left better off when they arrived. After that experience, I chose surgery because surgeons have to trust that patients will make it through surgery and survive. It’s a more optimistic approach to health and disease.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
Oh, so many new projects! I’ve always loved bench-top research. The project that keeps me awake at night is making sperm for patients using their skin and stem cell technology.
What advice would you give to other doctors to help their patients to thrive?
- Simple, listen to your patients. They’ll tell you the path you should take with their care.
- Avoid the 11 minute visit
- Avoid the tendency to throw pills at everything
- Oh, and smile
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Life is full of mentors and mine is a life replete with them. Robert Handschumacher, a professor at Yale School of Medicine, taught me how to think like a scientist when I was in college. Thomas Stamey, the chair of urology at Stanford School of Medicine taught me to love urology (of all fields! My mother still doesn’t know exactly what I do). Alan Wein, chair of urology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, taught me how to think critically and clearly. And Jack McAninch at San Francisco General Hospital taught me how to be a gentleman surgeon.
Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?
Everyone in medicine knows about the “Green Book” which is Netter’s Illustrations in Medicine. Beautiful, museum quality water color art illustrating the normal and the abnormal aspects of human health. Absolute icons of literature in the field, akin to Vesuvius’ On the Fabric of the Human Body written during the Renaissance. Who da’ thunk that 30 years after reading the Green Book for the first time, I would be the editor of the Second Edition of the Green Book! In my introduction, I wrote “How do improve upon perfection? Forgive me as I try…”
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I am a male fertility doctor. I take couples with sparkles in their eyes and help them bring babies into this world. How good is that!?
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Honestly, I have never thought of my career in medicine this way. The long road of medicine is full of constant learning, so I have remained on it. The financial expense was unbearable at times but its only money. The long hours were brutal early on in surgery but now I absolutely love sunrise and cherish a good night’s sleep. And a life in medicine taught me to cherish every single moment in life, bar none. You have no idea what might happen tomorrow.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Less is more” Mies Van der Rose, Architect. It speaks for itself.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It’s funny, I kind of had a “bucket list moment” a couple of years back when our molecular biology research began to show that younger men who are infertile are at higher risk of getting cancers as they age than fertile men. This introduced infertility as “biomarker of health” concept into our thinking. Others, including my trainees, then confirmed this and pushed the boundaries further to show that infertile men are not as healthy as fertile men even when they are young, and that infertile men have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and early death than fertile men. The NIH is now funding millions of dollars’ worth of grants to study the “fertility as biomarker of health” concept nationally and it warms the cockles of my heart to see what has happened.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
I would love if Elon Musk or Peter Thiel would consider funding my “sperm (or eggs) from skin” project for $10 million so little kids with cancer who get blasted with chemotherapy could have a chance to be parents after they survive their ordeal with cancer. Right now, they simply don’t have a chance.
Originally published at medium.com