Meet Dr. Stehouwer
In honor of National Doctors’ Day we’re celebrating Dr. Stehouwer! Why did you become a doctor?
In honor of National Doctors’ Day we’re celebrating Dr. Stehouwer!
Why did you become a doctor?
Until I was the age of 7, my parents were both medical missionaries in Nigeria. Then we moved to a small town back in the US. I grew up observing my parents caring for patients, not only at their medical facility but also doing house calls (sometimes on a snowmobile if the roads were impassable) and even seeing people in our home if the office was closed. After graduating from college and teaching/ administrating for 6 years (both challenging and rewarding), I finally paid attention to the quiet voice in me that told me I needed to go back to school and become a doctor.
Family practice was my chosen area of specialty because I wanted to have long-term relationships with my patients. One of the frustrations I had as a family practice doc was not having the tools to help people with chronic diseases actually get better! I could usually help them control their symptoms, often by adding more and more medication. Then I attended a conference by the Obesity Medical Association and came away so fired up I decided I wanted to specialize in medical bariatrics. After passing the boards and starting my practice in Poulsbo, I am thrilled to be able to help people regain their health. I get to go to work every day and decrease people’s medication, to tell them they no longer have high blood pressure or diabetes or sleep apnea. I have the privilege of patients telling me they no longer have heartburn or chronic aches and pains. I get phone calls stating a patient won’t be coming back for a while because after 10 years of trying they are finally pregnant after losing weight.
What’s the biggest misconception that patients have about what you do?
At KMWL I treat excess weight as a chronic disease. Losing weight and maintaining weight loss is a lifetime struggle that requires constant vigilance, the same as any other chronic disease. It is a multi-faceted, complex disease that has bio-psycho-social-spiritual facets. Each of these areas must be healthy in order to successfully control the disease of excess weight. There is no magic pill that will fix a lifetime of hurts and bad behaviors and make us want to exercise every day!
Is there a patient behavior that you wish you could change?
My greatest desire is for my patients to learn to love themselves. I want my patients to hear and believe the message that they are enough just as they are. They are worthy of esteem and love at any weight. Because this is a lifelong process, I want them to learn to give themselves grace when they have relapses.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to travel, hike, and cook (low carb of course!). Also, I am a runner and like the challenge of training for races. The best part of the weekend long runs is being able to spend time with my dear running buddy.
*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.
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