The Albany Herald
ALBANY — For many Albany doctors, their profession is a calling. For some, it’s part of a tradition — one that goes back to their father, mother or grandparents. In some cases, several generations have made Albany home.
Dr. Thomas Hilsman, who is a fifth generation Albany family medicine physician, says that medicine was his true calling. “This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. It was always the goal. I was in the Air Force for nine years after medical school and did my residency there. I was all over the place, from Mississippi to Texas to South Carolina to Thailand. When I got out of the service, that’s when I decided to move back to Albany to practice.”
Dr. John Inman, III, an OB/GYN, says that while medicine was the family business, he considered going into business or finance at one point in his life. “My family wanted me happy in whatever career I chose. Obviously, having a father who was also an OB/GYN and growing up in that type of home played a large part in my decision-making. I never felt force or steered into a medical path.”
And many other physicians in Albany have family trees filled with doctors.
Dr. Cullen Richardson, III, can trace careers in medicine in his family going back to the mid-1800s.
“I believe that medicine is a family gift,” Richardson said. “There are four MDs in my generation and two in the next generation.”
Dr. Stuart Goldsmith, son of Dr. Abe Goldsmith who practiced in Albany from 1957 until his death in 1988, says that the influence of his father was key in his decision to pursue medicine. He says he is still learning from him.
“Even today, 26 years after my father died, I continually have patients that I am seeing relate to me how much my father means to them and why,” Goldsmith, an Albany dermatologist, said. “These connections are precious to me, and I think they are to these patients as well. My father had great judgment and he was unafraid to give very personal advice to his patients. As I listen to their stories, my father continues to teach me what is important to patients.”
That sentiment was echoed by Dr. J. Stephen McLendon of Albany Internal Medicine, who says that his father’s influence has shaped how he views his practice.
“He allowed me to make my own decision, but let me know that he enjoyed being a physician,” McLendon said. “My first cousin (my father’s nephew) is a neuropathologist at Duke who has helped write /edit a text book. My cousin grew up in Dawson. Both of us were influenced by his high standard in our approach to our life’s calling.”
Dr. Sahir Ahsan, a resident, credits his mother, Dr. Nilofer Ahsan of Phoebe Rheumatology, with being his main guiding influence in his decision to become a physician.
“After seeing my mother go through residency and fellowship as a child, I was always intrigued by the possibility of becoming a doctor. My mother guided my curiosity by introducing me to the Phoebe volunteer programs and the opportunities to shadow other Phoebe physicians.”
Cardiologist Dr. Robert Glover remembers spending free time as a medical student and beyond following more experienced physicians throughout the halls of the hospital.
“I [remember that I] made rounds with my uncle (Dr. Walter Carl Gordon, Jr., an Albany general surgeon who served two terms as Chief of Medical Staff at Phoebe] at Phoebe while in medical school and further training when I was on breaks and vacation,” Glover said.
The relationship between parent and child can have a profound influence on those doctors who are currently working their way through their medical training.
“Having a father [Dr. Albert S. Trulock, Jr.] that was a surgeon was a powerful influence on me. I have never considered anything else,” said Dr. Timothy S. Trulock, an Albany urologist, whose son will begin medical school in August. “I think [my son] had a positive view of the level of care I give my patients. I think that [mentoring younger physicians] is the key and basis of medicine.”
Dr. Cheryl Tolliver, a pediatric hospitalist, started medical school when her daughter Destiny was 5. “For bedtime stories, she heard whatever I was studying at the time – from anatomy to pathology. Over the years, she has shadowed at clinic and in the hospital.”
Destiny has chosen to attend her mother’s alma mater, Morehouse School of Medicine, and specialize in pediatrics.
“From a very young age I was exposed to it,” Destiny Tolliver said. “I knew that was what I wanted to do. My mom was definitely an inspirational role model. She never pushed me into medicine but told me what it was like and let me know that it was an option.”
Read this article on the Albany Herald Website.