A Job Well Done: Celebrating 17 Years with DWC

Q&A With Retiring Medical Director, Paul Wardlaw, M.D.

Why did you decide to become a physician?

As a high school student I did very well in math and science and always enjoyed it.  In my high school years I was beginning to think about what I would do with my life and had begun to consider becoming a minister like my father.  I was listening to a missionary lady speaking one evening and she stated, “the need for doctors and teachers is so great.”  Immediately, I felt an impulse within me, that I attributed to “God prompting,” telling me I should become a physician.

What advice would you have for a new DWC provider?

Stay flexible.  Carry an appropriate expectation or minimal expectation of what you might find at a site.

What will you miss most about being a “Doc Who Cares?”

Meeting people and hearing their non-medical histories.  The paycheck.

What is something you won’t miss about working for DWC?

Getting up at 3 AM for a case of constipation.

Any idea how many DWC hospitals you worked at during your career?

At least 35.  7 in Missouri, 2 in Iowa, 6 in Colorado, and 20 in Kansas

What is your favorite memory of working for DWC?

A patient came into the ER with a cucumber in one of his body orifices. After appropriate actions to remove said cucumber one of my nurses asked if I would like to go out to get a cucumber salad.

One of my most moving memories – diagnosing a case of lung cancer on Thanksgiving evening in a 60ish man whose wife was frustrated that he had not been feeling well for 3 months and had been in 3 different ERs.

Personally, my wife and I had some great times living for several days in our RV at some of the rural hospitals.

Where is the best hospital food you’ve ever eaten?

No best hospital food – that is an oxymoron.  But I never refused to eat a hospital meal that was offered.

What else would you like us to know about you or your career?

My career has been blessed by variety!

  • Three years at an Indian Health Service clinic in central Washington
  • One year traveling to the IHS clinics in Oregon, Washington and Idaho writing protocols for the management of diabetes and hypertension by nurses where physician help was limited
  • Nine years working at a large mission hospital in southern Africa
  • Nine years in a fairly traditional family practice in Olathe with Dr. Morsch and others
  • 12 years as physician director for the Olathe Health System with 16 clinics and 60 physicians while maintaining some clinical practice
  • Finally, the fun of working with DWC the past 17 years overlapping some of the administrative years

I’ve practiced 47 years in all.  Probably least known is that my wife and I have sung in the Summit Choral the past 3 years and we sang in Carnegie Hall this spring.

What plans or dreams do you have for your retirement?

I plan to relax, continue volunteering as a Copper Mountain ambassador greeting people and giving directions and tours, hike and bike with my wife of 51 years, travel some, and continue to enjoy seven grand-kids and their parents.  I also hope to read, fly fish in my backyard, stay fit as long as God gives me health, and continue to sing in the Summit Choral Society, and stay active in Dillon Community Church.

Feel free to leave a comment below about how Dr. Wardlaw has made an impact on your life!

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