As a UW medical student in the early 1970s, Dr. Richard McLandress was sent to the 5,000-person town of Colville, Washington, to live in a small room adjacent to the emergency department at Mount Caramel Hospital and to learn medicine hands-on.
McLandress — now a family medicine physician in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — was one of the first-ever WWAMI test cases (well, technically a WAMI test case since Wyoming — the second ‘W’ — didn’t join the five-state medical training program until 1996). He spent two summers doing a little bit of everything. “It was an immersion in old-time medicine. After my first summer I’d delivered 10 babies — it was amazing.”
McLandress’ family ties to UW run deep — as far back as 1905 when his grandmother rowed with the first Husky women’s crew team. His grandfather was also a graduate, as are two of his brothers. Continuing the family tradition, his daughter is a product of UW School of Medicine.
Ever since those early days in Colville, McLandress has been committed to helping address the national and regional shortfall of family medicine physicians, especially in rural areas. In 1977 he co-founded Family Medicine Coeur d’Alene, where he has been practicing family medicine ever since. Twenty-five years later he spearheaded an effort to establish the first family medicine residency in northern Idaho — the Kootenai Clinic Family Medicine Residency, which he has directed since its inception.
Four decades after finishing his own formal medical training, what does McLandress emphasize to the next generation of doctors? The importance of the continuity of care that family medicine practitioners can provide, the necessity and value of lifelong learning, and the importance of work-life balance: vacation, time with loved ones, time away from medicine, and — of course — time with family.