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Meet Paul Turek, MD of The Turek Clinics in Beverly Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Turek, MD.

Paul, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I began life as the U.S born son of an Eastern European immigrant blacksmith who early on in life taught me the value of doing good and being a craftsman.

So, I became a surgeon. More specifically, a urologic microsurgeon who specializes in men’s health and reproductive microsurgery. I am an Ivy League and Stanford educated, fellowship trained, “small parts” surgeon for men. I operate on things no bigger than a piece of spaghetti and often 10 times smaller, doing things like vasectomy reversals.

For 15 years, I taught and practiced medicine as a Professor of Urology at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. This is because I realized early on in my career as a men’s health specialist that men in the U.S. weren’t getting great medical care. In fact, I believe that, for a variety of sociocultural reasons, that men are wildly undeserved medically. On average, the poorest American women live far longer than the wealthiest American men. This led me to an academic career that focused on the epidemiology and genetics of male infertility. We published strong evidence that male fertility, a disease of young men, is actually linked to other diseases, including cancers, later in life. This has led to the concept that fertility in men might be a good “biomarker” of future health and is the focus of NIH grants at this time.

But while I loved academics and published hundreds of papers and achieved fame in my field, I felt that I could do a better job of delivering the kind of care that I was preaching about better in private practice.

So, I started The Turek Clinics in San Francisco and now Beverly Hills, which I believe are great “medical homes” for men. They are places where wisdom and knowledge meet great old fashioned medical care for young men. Places where men are listened to and problems solved and not just treated.

Has it been a smooth road?
No road in life is smooth. But bumps in the road are good for they represent challenges. And challenge lead to growth, accomplishment and ultimately, a fulfilling life. I felt that training in surgery for up to 120 hours weekly for 6 years was a wholly inefficient way to learn the trade. Being the son of a gilded blacksmith, I get the apprenticeship idea of learning a craft. However, I believe that sleeps matter too if you expect to learn alot and be creative and change the world. Remember, Einstein published on special relativity theory at the tender age of 26 (old by tech standards today). When I was 26, I was living in a hospital as an intern, panicked with every beep on my pager. After that, I spent much of my life in academics trying to change the way medicine is taught and now wish that no one be subject to this ancient training method in medicine. I even won a grant to teach medicine using storytelling as it “grips” the mind with far more traction than a didactic lecture ever could.

The worst effect that residency training had on me was that it stunted my personal development as man, husband and father. My residency training cost me a long term relationship and a marriage. Hard to remember what actually happened to both but they just fell apart. Probably, falling asleep in the middle of having conversations didn’t help. Ask me now that I have been transformed by good health, exercise and rigorous sleep hygiene into a caring doctor, father and husband and I would call sleep the new oxygen. It’s all over my blog: TurekonMensHealth!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the The Turek Clinics story. Tell us more about the business.
The Turek Clinics are medical homes for men. They are places where men’s sexual health and fertility issues are addressed with personalized and highly professional care. As soon as I realized that US men are remarkably medically underserved while in academics, I started trying to figure out ways to improve their engagement in healthcare. The simplest way to do this is to listen to them. And that requires more than an insurance-backed 12 minute office visit. The next most important thing is to earn their trust so that they open up and tell their story. And this takes more than just a longer office visit. This takes character and commitment.

I remember one of the first patients I ever saw in my private practice that aptly demonstrated the value of our patient-centered philosophy of care. He was a busy international reporter with an infertility problem. He liked the office with a balsa surfboard on the wall and vintage car art in the rooms. These things relaxed him, and he opened up quickly with me regarding his concerns. This is when I learned that he also had recurrent urinary tract infections, which could easily lead to the infertility problem.

So I switched gears and focused on the infection problem instead of the infertility problem. He had been seen by no fewer than 7 urologists about his recurrent infections and no diagnosis or cure was forthcoming. I told him that having recurrent infections is not normal and there must be a reason. I ordered some simple tests and planned to follow-up and told him that I was determined to “solve” the infection issue.

While standing in the hallway of the office door after his visit, he turned around, looked at me and said: “Doc, this may seem strange but I’ll tell you anyway. Sometimes when I pee it feels like popcorn popping.” I looked at him and said” Like air coming out?” He said: “Yes, that’s it! Air!” Bingo. Diagnosis made; rectovesical fistula. Cured with a surgical procedure. And not only that, he wife soon conceived at home as his natural fertility was restored.

Trust, wisdom, knowledge and good listening is still the best medicine and that’s what The Turek Clinics are all about.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Over the next decade. a huge number of doctors will retire early, leaving us with a doctor supply shortage, And unlike in the 60’s which was the last time this happened, there will not be an increase in supply of US trained doctors and an influx of foreign trained medical doctors to fill the gaps. The gap will be filled with advanced practice providers and physician extenders (physician assistants and nurse practitioners). I think this will be good for US medicine and have hired extenders myself and they are of great value to medicine.

I am hoping that America will continue to try to provide some of the world’s best medical care, because right now our goal, and an admirable one at that, is to provide medical care to as many Americans as possible. I am fully a part of this goal and co-founded a free clinic for the working poor in San Francisco (ClinicbytheBay.org) which has flourished over the last 5 years.

I am also hoping that men become more aware that living a full and long life requires regular maintenance, just like a car. Men need to know that their single best investment in their lives is their health and treat it with the respect it deserves.

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The Turek Clinics

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