When Robert Clark came to the end of his college years, he had what some people might consider an enviable dilemma: go to medical school or become a professional golfer.
He had been interested in medicine since he was 11 or 12 years old, so by the time he finished college, medical school seemed like a natural choice. On the other hand, he had spent most of his life on the golf course, either caddying for members at the local country club or cultivating his natural ability on the links.
When the acceptance letter arrived from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, it was clear to young Robert what he should do, and he has never looked back. That is not to say, however, that golf fell by the wayside. He continued to caddy throughout medical school and to play whenever he could. As in most endeavors Robert took on, he excelled. During his many years as a caddy, he achieved the status of caddy master, which involves management responsibilities with fellow caddies, in the pro shop, and around the golf club where he worked.
As a golfer, he established a zero handicap a goal of many players but an elusive one for all but the best.
His father, Robert Sr., who shares a love of golf as well as an exceptional skill level, no doubt influenced Roberts interest in golf. Now retired from the insurance business, the elder Clark plays on the senior mini-tour. Robert Jr. still makes time for golf, too, but only as an avocation. With a six handicap, he is still a fine golfer and enjoys playing whenever and wherever he can, although Woodside Country Club in Aiken is a favorite local course.
Robert grew up as the oldest child in a family of five in Exton, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. His mother, Anna, was a day care administrator. His brother, Joe, lives in Portland, Oregon, and his sister, Michelle, the Clarks only daughter, has six children of her own and resides in Exton.
While living in Philadelphia, where he attended medical school and completed a family medicine residency at St. Joseph Hospital, Robert had the good fortune of meeting his future wife, Lucinda, while apartment hunting in 1987. Even though their paths crossed only briefly he was moving in as she was moving out their short time as across-the-hall neighbors led to a 2-year courtship and marriage in 1989. Robert and Lucinda now have two children: a daughter, Jessica, age 9, and a son, Xavier, age 8.
Like her husband, Lucinda had an early interest in medicine. She had majored in biology in college and went so far as to complete one year of medical school when she realized she was on the wrong career path. Fortunately, the rich and varied culture of New Orleans, where she attended school, breathed life into Lucindas latent interest in art, and she found a vocation she could enthusiastically embrace. Today, Lucinda is a literary and visual art agent with her own business, PRA Enterprises.
Dr. Clarks first medical practice was in Fayetteville, North Carolina. From there, the family moved to Augusta, where he has been on staff at The Center for Primary Care for 5 years. Considering the groups diversity with respect to background, religion, ethnicity, personality, and interests, he finds CPCs physicians to be complementary and remarkably compatible. We are a unique group and we work well together, he says.
Dr. Clarks background and patient care approach brings yet another facet to the group. His medical degree is Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), a philosophy of medicine that considers illnesses in the context of the whole system rather than in isolation. Although he is the only DO of the 11-physician CPC staff, In todays environment, there are few
differences between MDs and DOs with respect to training and practice, he says. The unique dimension that Dr. Clark brings to The Center for Primary Care, however, has less to do with his degree than with his holistic approach to patient care.
I am probably more holistic than most primary care physicians, he says. Holistic implies a greater emphasis on prevention and, when appropriate, treatment that relies less on medicine than other approaches, such as nutrition, exercise, vitamins, muscular manipulations, and consideration of environmental influences. Part of this interest grew out of his medical training, but the greater influence was his experience as father of an asthmatic child.
Jessica was born with asthma, secondary to being a premature infant. When the child was 2 years old, Lucinda decided to track her asthma attacks to see if there was a pattern. They discovered that Jessicas attacks were occurring almost invariably on Thursdays, immediately after the house was cleaned on Wednesdays. When they substituted natural cleansers, such as vinegar, for the harsh chemical products they had been using, the asthma attacks abruptly ended. This experience caused Dr. Clark to ask himself, What might I be missing with my patients?
Dr. Clark finds that a growing number of patients – particularly those who grew up in the 1960s – are more open to a holistic approach to medicine. They are now getting older, he says, and want to avoid the health problems their parents faced.
Aside from practicing medicine and playing an occasional round of golf, Dr. Clark finds time for his other interests, primarily spending time with his family, but also cooking (which he does an impressive four times a week), traveling to the Caribbean and the West Coast, and practicing tai-chi (a Chinese method of meditation and exercise) with his son and daughter.
He takes greatest pride in his family, but is also grateful for opportunities he has had to make a difference in a community. He is particularly pleased to have founded the Esquire Club for black males at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Created for social and philanthropic purposes, the organization has thrived for 20 years as a source of recreation, camaraderie, and scholarship funding.
Dr. Clarks relaxed manner, sense of humor, medical skill, and obvious interest in improving the human condition are assets that not only serve his patients well but also further broaden the scope and quality of medical care at The Center for Primary Care.