Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program Recipient

Pediatrician Sean Dugan was inspired to become a doctor "by compassionate physicians I knew growing up. I was heavily involved in community service and knew I wanted to go into a career that involved serving others."

A California native who was raised in Hawaii, he achieved the Eagle Scout rank at a young age. He attended the University of Southern California (USC), where he met his future wife in chemistry class: she was his lab partner. After earning a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, he moved back to Hawaii, where he attended the John A. Burns School of Medicine and Pediatric Residency Program while his future wife continued working at USC.

Sean Dugan

"What I love about pediatrics is that my actions will impact a lifetime. Educating patients and their families can have long-lasting positive effects, such as healthier lifestyle changes that impact morbidity and mortality. In turn, this will affect their future children and families. Pediatrics is also very challenging. Many times the patients cannot tell you what they are feeling or what symptoms they are having. Even if they are old enough to speak, it often requires a certain level of skill to extract the information you need from the patient," Dr. Dugan said.

He works in rural northern California, at Shasta Community Health Center (SCHC). In a typical day, he sees 18-24 patients, often accompanied by a family practice resident or a medical student. "I perform circumcisions daily, in addition to many other procedures, ranging from Nexplanon implantation/removal to external Broviac repair."  On alternating Wednesdays, Dr. Dugan proctors the Telemedicine Endocrinology Clinic provided by the University of California Davis and runs an Adolescent (Teen) Clinic. He is on call at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where he admits newborns and pediatric patients. Dr. Dugan is a part-time faculty member at Shasta Family Practice Residency Program. In addition, he serves on several committees at SCHC and in the Shasta County community.

"My favorite part of the job is getting to know my patients and their families. Building  trust and rapport is very rewarding. I also love to teach, which is why we frequently have a resident or a medical student working with me," Dr. Dugan said.The most challenging part of his job is dealing with pervasive child abuse. "I am working closely with my colleagues at the District Attorney’s office, in law enforcement and in Children and Family Services (formerly Child Protective Services) to start the first Children’s Advocacy Center in Shasta County. This is an evidence-based multidisciplinary approach to child abuse.

"Another challenge is the number of uninsured and underinsured patients in Shasta County. "It’s also difficult to find specialists for our patients. Even if we find the specialists, transportation can be challenging given the limited resources of the population we serve. I’ve learned to manage a lot of conditions and chronic diseases that I otherwise would have referred to a specialist if I practiced in a major city," he said.

Being a beneficiary of the Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program "... has allowed me to pursue my dream of working in a rural community and serving the underserved," Dr. Dugan said. He and his wife and three young children enjoy the seasonal rhythms of outdoor life in Shasta County, where favorite activities include planting trees, growing their own food, swimming in nearby lakes, and playing in the snow.Are you interested in becoming a Steven M. Thompson Physician Corps Loan Repayment Program recipient? Please see story on page 9 for application details.

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