After finishing college and medical school in his native Ohio, and five years of residency in Chicago, Laurence Nace, M.D., could have gone in a number of different directions with his medical career. But after a stint in the Twin Cities, he opened a practice in Austin, Minnesota. That was 1985. A few years later, Dr. Nace sold his practice to what is now Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin, where he spent the remainder of his career as a general obstetrician/gynecologist. Along the way, he's brought a lot of babies into the world.
"A long time ago I decided that I'd be most happy and that the most treasured moments of practice and patient contact would come by being able to help deliver patients' children," Dr. Nace tells us. And while he says he doesn't have exact numbers, throughout his career, Dr. Nace has been a part of several thousand such treasured moments. He's tracked the numbers in a database since 1987, and it had approximately 5,500 deliveries, he says. "I don't have an exact number, because there's no way to tell how many of those were double entries for twins or other things like that." Before that, he figures he'd delivered another 1,500 to 2,000 babies.
Exact numbers or not, that's impressive. And Dr. Nace says the significance isn't lost on him. "One of the first babies I delivered in Austin went on to become a student in the surgical tech program here," he says. "There was also a time when I realized that I'd probably delivered about half of my son's hockey team. That was fun."
The job, of course, wasn't always fun — especially when a pregnancy or delivery didn't go according to plan. Whenever that happened, Dr. Nace says he'd think back on wise words from one of his mentors. "He told me that while it's wonderful to be able to deliver an alive, healthy baby, the patients who have suffered a loss are the ones who really need you the most," he says. "I've always tried to remember that."
Just like he says he'll always remember the thousands of encounters and relationships that made his decision to retire from Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin earlier this month so difficult. "It was really hard to leave because I was seeing quite a few patients who were in their early stages of pregnancy and who I had delivered myself just 20-some years ago," he says. "This job has been one way of really feeling like you've had an impact on your patients' lives."
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