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Doctors Must Have a Ready Escape


Dad was a big advocate of the "brief vacation." And he held that it's the wise doctor who has a ready escape. Perhaps 8 to 10 times a year, my father would leave behind his concerns (usually work and family) and take a timely trip to where he could loosen up.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

—Dr. William James

It’s my father’s birthday this week. Dr. Charlie Kelly was born 96 years ago in December. And since most people are happy on their birthday (I always am), I got to wondering what made dad happy.

I know when he practiced medicine he had stresses. I was too close to the man for too many years not to know that. But he was generally good at dealing with the pressure because he developed the ability to detach from the profession, if only for a while.

Dad was a big advocate of the “brief vacation.” And he held that it’s the wise doctor who has a ready escape. Perhaps 8 to 10 times a year, my father would leave behind his concerns (usually work and family) and take a timely trip to where he could loosen up.

His frequent companions on these adventures were his physician colleagues—this was often good for friendship and for business, he explained. The brevity and frequency of the breaks, where you are not overwhelmed upon return, was what made them worthwhile.

None of these things must break the bank if you do it right. Here are a couple getaways that my father perfected:


Perhaps it’s a stereotype, but my father loved the game and I know few doctors who disagree. I also know that dad used it as a big stress-buster. He escaped through the game in so many ways—participant, spectator, reader, and collector.

He was an enthusiastic and educated golfer and played many of the great courses in America, Scotland, and Ireland. His connections as a doctor certainly helped him get on some very exclusive courses. Before his illness in the 1950s, dad was a single-digit handicap golfer.

He got to meet his 3 golf idols, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan, in person. He posted his only 2 holes-in-one after his 75th birthday, lived to play golf with all of his grandsons, and attended the US Open and The Masters.

(Look at something else good on doctor-golfers, HERE.)


I remember as a young boy looking at my father’s passport and thinking that is was extremely marked up. The man did a lot of traveling—worldwide. He loved the Caribbean, visited Ireland and Scotland many times, stayed in Paris, and once took my mother to Venezuela (why we’ll never know). In America, he had friends and relatives all over and went to see them often.

The guy was even a trend-setter. My father went to the NFL’s first 10 Super Bowls; perhaps sports’ most-sought ticket today. Those games were played mostly in California, Florida, or New Orleans; setting up a pleasant, short pre-game vacation in Las Vegas or the Bahamas. He knew how to have fun.

I myself give him high marks in the travel development because he got my mom to go on several vacations. Could he have done more with her? Sure, but I really don’t think she wanted to go. Mom was mostly a “home base” personality. Dad found relaxation and rejuvenation in adventure.

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