McFarland Clinic

VIDEO: Dr. Jack Swanson - 44 Years at McFarland Clinic

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May 30, 2019

Retiring McFarland Clinic Pediatrician Dr. Jack Swanson reflects on his long and distinguished with McFarland Clinic. He has worked at McFarland for 44 years, making him the longest serving physician in the clinic's history.


I think medicine always had some attraction. My mother was the executive director of the Iowa Heart Association in Des Moines. She actually arranged for me to go watch one of the first open heart surgeries in Des Moines in children. It just seemed like a good career.

I finished my residency in 1973, and at that time everybody was required to be in the service for two years before practice. It was in the Vietnam era. So I did do pediatrics in the Army for two years and then came to McFarland Clinic in 1975.

The reputation of McFarland was always one of the tops in the state, including the pediatric practice. We would work both in the clinic and the hospital, have to run back and forth seeing sick children in the middle of the day and middle of the night. We didn't have a tunnel, we'd run through rain and snow. It was a little more hectic. We didn't have First Nurses and emergency room doctors and hospitalists that make what seems to me a much nicer practice now.

I thought back that I'm the only pediatrician that will have worked with every pediatrician at McFarland Clinic. And the first four that were here when I came, Howard Hildebrand, Bill McCormack, Walt Larson, and Paul Koellner were all excellent doctors. I was able to use their brains with sick children and also learn bedside manner from them. And I think that my current pediatric group has always helped to keep me updated too. You always learn from new doctors as they come too.

Things I'll remember the most individually is being able to go to deliveries and C-sections with my own son and have him deliver the baby and then me right there to take care of the baby. Parents still come and talk to me about, that's one of their introductions when I first see them sometimes, "Oh, your son delivered my baby here and then you get to take care of them." So that's been really fun I think.

Helping them raise their children was very gratifying, and hopefully I've helped a lot of children and mothers and fathers. It's been a wonderful place to work. I never have wanted to ever make another decision to go elsewhere. It's been a great place. I wouldn't have traded it away for anything.

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