In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

March 5, 2015

A Medley of Music and Medicine: An Internist Talks Music and Life

By In the Loop

A concert cellist plays her instrument. It only makes sense that Carl Lundstrom, M.D., would use a musical metaphor to describe his job as an internist while he was a guest on a radio show called “Music With Minnesotans.” Dr. Lundstrom told Minnesota Public Radio’s Steve Staruch that he sees his medical role as “a cross between a detective and a conductor.” And from there, the two ventured into Dr. Lundstrom’s journey to Mayo, his love of classical music, and the way that being a cancer patient has helped shape the way that cares for his own patients.

Dr. Lundstrom says he likely wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to join Mayo’s Internal Medicine staff had it not been for the gentle nudging of a former student from his days as a residency director. “I came (to Mayo) to attend a medical education seminar, and I sought out my old student,” he says. As they talked, and Dr. Lundstrom offered his thoughts on how badly medicine was going elsewhere, she said, “You should come to the Mayo Clinic.”

And that he did. Now that he is a full-time Mayo Clinic care provider, Dr. Lundstrom tells Staruch he couldn’t be happier. “I wondered when I first came, ‘Am I jumping from the frying pan into the fire?’ because I’d had some issues with institutions when I was in private practice, hospital groups and so on,” he says. “But no way. Mayo Clinic is, in my view, the best possible position.” And now he tells his kids, “If you don’t find the job you really want until age 50, don’t despair, because that’s what happened to me.”

Asked about how being diagnosed with cancer himself has affected his practice, Dr. Lundstrom tells Staruch that he has a newfound appreciation for what his patients are going through and how he can help. “This has given me an enormous insight into how my patients feel and how maybe I should relate to them better,” he says. “I can sit across the table, and I can smile, and I’m not afraid to tell them, ‘Look, I have cancer, and I’m being treated, and I’ve been through what I’m asking you to go through, and this is exactly what to expect. The good, the bad, whatever. I can lead you through it.’”

Dr. Lundstrom is no stranger to musical insights, either. His tastes tend to the classical and choral. And you can listen to him talk about it all right here. Afterward, be sure to let us know what you think by sharing your comments below and by sharing this story with others.

Tags: Employee Stories, Employee Story, Music and Medicine, Practice story

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