Dr. Eldon Schriock's Personal Odyssey

Posted on February 21, 2012 by Inception Fertility

I grew up on a farm in Kansas to parents who set education as a very high priority. Our small farm never provided any financial security. It was in the 7th grade when I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I credit this to two important people who were very influential to me; the local primary care doctor, who was my hero, and our veterinarian.

However, getting into medical school was always the goal, and fortunately, I was accepted to Northwestern University. Once in medical school, I became interested in both endocrinology and surgery. Fortunately, I discovered the field of reproductive endocrinology. Solving all those hormonal puzzles and learning about the up and coming laparoscopic surgery was all very exciting to me. It was all of these factors that led me into my Obstetrics and Gynecology residency.

During my first year as an intern, I was privileged enough to meet Dr. Steptoe, who created the first IVF baby. It was at that time I realized I wanted to pursue a Reproductive Endocrinology fellowship. IVF hadn’t started in this country yet, but we saw it coming. Those of us that jumped in knew that it was a big wave that we could surf for a long time if we caught it. Well, we caught it, and it’s been a real ride since!

At the time, the best fellowship for both Pediatric and Reproductive Endocrinology in the country was at University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Fortunately, Beth was pursuing Pediatric Endocrinology and we were both accepted into the UCSF fellowship. I was part of the first team to do IVF at UCSF in 1984.

Once I completed my fellowship, I had several opportunities for positions and UCSF asked me to stay as a faculty member. I also had many job offers in other areas since everyone needed an IVF doctor and there were only so few of us. However, Beth’s Pediatric Endocrinology career took us Memphis, Tennessee, where she was to conduct research at St. Jude’s Hospital. For me, it was also lucky to head for Memphis because at that time, laser surgery was being developed in Memphis.

Then, in 1989, I was contacted by UCSF once again to return to the university as a faculty member. At this time, Beth and I were ready to leave Memphis as we knew it was time to find the place we would call home instead of moving around for our careers.

As a UCSF medical school professor, I taught and trained many infertility doctors, including many of the currently practicing reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists in the Bay area. My partner, Dr. Carolyn Givens, was actually the second fellow I trained when I came back from Memphis, and few years later I trained our own Dr. Isabelle Ryan. During my time teaching at UCSF, I received the Outstanding Teacher Award teaching medical students, residents, and fellows. I feel that my experience and knowledge with teaching my students has taught me how to best communicate with my patients. I love the teaching aspect of my job.

In 1995, I became chief of gynecology at UCSF. Then, in 1999 I left UCSF to form what is now Pacific Fertility Center.

Some of my biggest passions include my music, meditation, and cycling. However, my real love is for snow skiing. Yoga is also very important to me, which is why I have a connection to Eastern medicine. I used to have horrible back pain from medical school until about six years ago when my Yoga teacher taught me that everything I thought I was doing right for my back was wrong. She helped me correct it with Yoga and I haven’t had back pain since. I think there is some message there that when done correctly, alternatives to traditional medicine can be complementary.

Now, every 5 years I head back to my small farm in Kansas. A town of 1,200 people grows to 3,000 for three days during “Old Settler’s Reunion”. It is just so special.

Reflecting on my life, I feel as if I have lived the American dream: Kansas farm boy to San Francisco physician. I feel very lucky to live and work in the Bay area, and even more lucky to have my family. I love having the opportunity to help my patients reach for their dreams.

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