34 Years at McFarland Clinic – Dr. Larry Otteman Retires


I was interested in the sciences even in high
school. A prominent family physician in Sac City,
which is where I was growing up, sort of nudged me towards thinking about medicine. So you do medical school, get your MD degree,
and then you go to an internal medicine residency. I was in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where my beautiful
wife was also working in the laboratory. I soon learned that if I ordered a bone marrow
on a patient, she would come up to the floor, and then I would go down and look at the bone
marrows with her. So it’s sort of a Valentine, romantic career
choice on my part. Oncology is a very dynamic field. I am doing things in my 34th year of
practice here that I was not doing five years ago. It changes that dramatically. I think one of the great assets of the McFarland
Clinic are not just the staff, not just the providers that are here, but the patients
we take care of. The one story that I carry with me, I carry
because of one of the patients. What he told me, I tell to almost every patient
and their family that I visit with, and that is: You will be told that
you have cancer. And you hear the words, and intellectually
you understand at least a little bit of what that means, but you won’t believe it
for at least a week. He said, “I used to wake up every morning,
roll over, and say to my wife, ‘I had the strangest dream. I dreamt that
someone told that me I had cancer.'” And he said, “Let people know that that’s
going to happen.” And that’s been so reassuring for so many
of the people that I deal with. I’m still proud to call all of the people
that I work with partners and see in their work and their attitude a real dedication
to patient care. And that was true 34 years ago when I came,
and it’s just as true now. The nice thing is that the new faces are people
with the same commitment. No one’s in this by themself. We talk to each other about patients all of
the time. We share in the care of each other’s patients. It just makes for a much better care that
our patients get because, whether they know it or not, they’re oftentimes getting a second
or a third opinion as to what’s going on.

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