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Doctoc Comes home to start practice

by Christina Nelson

Sometimes students know exactly what they want to do with their life; Sometimes they don’t.

One incident made Samuel Chacn’s decision much easier.

Though he always knew he wanted to be a doctor, Chacn decided to pursue obstetrics and gynecology after an incident during his third year in medical school.

Chacn was assisting with a child delivery that had some complications when the doctor he was working with had to attend to another emergency. He was left alone to deliver the baby with only a couple of nurses.

The nurses were yelling at the woman, who only spoke Spanish and was beginning to panic. Chacn started speaking to the woman in Spanish, explained what was going on and helped her calm down.

“She really didn’t have any family at the delivery,” he said. “When we were finished up she called me over to her side and she was crying. She asked me what my name was and I said, ‘Samuel.’ She picked up her baby and said, ‘This is little Sam.'”

That episode cemented his decision to become an obstetrician/gynecologist.

Not that he didn’t have a lot of barriers and stereotypes to overcome. Many people tried to stop him from specializing in women’s health. Chacn even pointed out that there are five times more women currently in the profession than men.

“I was really interested in promoting women’s health. Despite people who discouraged me along the way, I did it because that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.

Chacn would like to go to high school and middle school health classes where he would lecture about HIV, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases. It was something he was involved in during medical school in Southern California and feels there are a lot of myths about those issue that he would like to help clear up.

“What I’m interested in doing is getting involved in some of the bigger issues and trying to make people aware of the bigger issues,” he said.

“I’d like to try to give back to this community that gave so much to me.”

Chacn graduated from Douglas High School in 1987 and grew up in Gardnerville.

He also specializes in infertility – a subject he says is studied by almost anyone who focuses on obstetrics and gynecology in medical school now.

Chacn received a tennis scholarship to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., but returned to the University of Nevada, Reno when he suffered an injury that kept him from playing tennis.

His last year of college, Chacn studied at the Universidad de Pas Vasco in San Sebastian, Spain where he lived with a Basque family.

“It was great in that I lived with a family there and was able to speak Spanish the whole time,” he said.

He was “immersed” in the culture and learned traditional dances and how to cook Basque food, as well as getting a chance to perfect his Spanish grammar.

Chacn noted that by the year 2000 there will be more Spanish speakers in California than English speakers. With the Spanish speaking population in the Carson Valley area, being bilingual will help his practice and his patients.

“I think the thing that’s going to help me a lot is that my dad is from South America,” Chacn said. “I was able to learn Spanish at an early age.”

He went to the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles because it is one of the best schools for his specialty. He did his internship and residency at the University of California, San Diego, but has longed to return to a small town atmosphere.

“I felt that in order to get excellent training you have to go to a large city, a large program where there’s going to be a lot of volume,” Chacn said. “I think I’ve had good training but I’ve always had the aim of coming back to a small town.”

“Even though it’s still growing, you still have a sense that it’s a small town and you know everybody. I really missed that.”

People in cities, Chacn said, tend to isolate themselves, where people in small towns still feel a sense of community.

He’s already getting a taste of the small-town atmosphere by working in the area. Chacn has already run into a few people from high school, even though he has only been back since June.

Chacn wants to eventually have children. He met his wife, Veronique, while on vacation in Mexico.

They live in Carson City so he can be close to Carson-Tahoe Hospital, where the Carson Medical Group is located. But starting in September he will be practicing at the groups office in Minden twice a week – Tuesdays and Thursdays.