A Father’s Day Tribute
June 15, 2019
My life as a practicing clinical dermatologist and CEO of Episciences, Inc. means I stay very busy. As a father and grandfather, Father’s Day is a day I enjoy stepping away from work and being dedicated to time with my family. This Father’s Day, however, I am remembering my own father and his impact on my life.
My father was a force of nature. He had worked his way up from living on a hardscrabble farm in Montana to become a prominent pediatrician in Portland, Oregon. He had started his education to become a veterinarian but ended up in pediatrics. This combined love meant that I grew up on a farm outside of Portland raising sheep and tending to orchards and fields of berries while he managed his busy practice downtown. He taught me and my siblings the value of hard work, but also how to constantly seek ways of doing things better.
One day, he realized that his medical practice had a supply of nutritional supplements that had expired. He brought them home, and decided he wanted to experiment with what would happen with our baby lambs if they were fed these nutritional supplements. At the time, the idea of providing nutritional supplements to farm animals was revolutionary. These lambs grew into sheep, and he decided he wanted us to show them at the Oregon State Fair. No one had ever seen sheep that large before, and the initial reaction from the establishment was to push us away from competition. We persisted and eventually our efforts began to radically change the way farmers approached taking care of their animals.
This is just one of many examples in my life where my father pushed to make things better. He taught me how to ask questions. He taught me the value of testing a hypothesis. He taught me the value of learning from every “failure” when testing that hypothesis until an answer could be found. He taught me the value of tenacity in the face of discouragement by others.
Ultimately, though, it is because of my father that I pursued medicine. I was honored to be able to share a medical practice with him for more than 10 years until he retired after being in practice for almost 40 years. I watched him love his patients and in turn watched his patients love him back. He taught me that being a physician was about helping my patients be able to live their life to its fullest and caring about them holistically.
He has been gone for over 15 years and was not able to see my dream of Epionce fully come to fruition. And yet, I continue to see his influence. I am forever grateful to him for the impact he has had on my life. Just as Epionce makes me a better doctor he, by example, has made me a better person.
Dr. Carl R. Thornfeldt
Founder & CEO, Episciences, Inc.