When you return to your hometown as a physician, such as Robin Lannan did, having your yearbooks close by can come in handy.
“Getting to see the teachers I had in elementary, middle or high school as patients, and the parents of kids I went to school with has been pretty fun,” said Dr. Lannan, a Corvallis native who is retiring on June 1 after 28 years as an internist at The Clinic. “I keep my middle-school and high-school yearbooks on my desk to share with those patients when they have come in.”
She jokingly said it is her way of saying, “Look, guys, I turned out okay after all!”
Dr. Lannan was born in Montana and at age 10 moved to Corvallis where her father began to pursue a Ph.D in fisheries at Oregon State University. She attended Wilson Elementary School, Cheldelin Junior High School (now a middle school), and Crescent Valley High School. She graduated from Toledo High School, however, because her father had joined the faculty of the Marine Science Center in Newport.
She received Bachelor of Arts in biology with honors from the University of Oregon in 1982 and then earned her Doctorate of Medicine in 1986 from Oregon Health Sciences University. She completed an internal medicine residency in 1989 at Fletcher Allen Health Care (now the University of Vermont Medical Center) in Burlington, VT.
Other than what she called a “little moonlighting,” The Clinic has been the only place where she has practiced medicine. When she joined the Internal Medicine Department in 1989, she was Benton County’s first female internist and the first primary care provider at The Clinic.
She became a physician because it combined science and caring for people. “I chose internal medicine because it gave me that combination of puzzle solving – putting complex clues together to figure out a diagnosis – and helping people. I like caring for acutely and seriously ill patients, so critical care medicine was a good fit for me.”
After 11 years with a patient panel, she moved to the Immediate Care Center when her life got busier with two children and a husband who worked at Hewlett-Packard. “I was on call a lot, which in those days meant going into the hospital in the middle of the night on a frequent basis. My husband’s job became a lot less flexible. One of us needed to be more flexible, so I moved to ICC.”
She said she has enjoyed the variety of patients she has seen in ICC combined with using her diagnostic skills as an internist. “Corvallis is a small enough city that I have gotten to know a lot of patients as ‘repeat customers’ over the years, giving me the continuity of care that is so enjoyable about primary care. I have seen the ADULT children of the young people I used to see when I first came here!’
During her time at The Clinic, she helped to spearhead the policies of job sharing and reduced practices and served on the Board of Directors and the Foundation Board.
One memorable moment for her was when she worked all day while in labor with her daughter who was born just three hours after she left the office. “I wanted to get all my paperwork done and leave a clean desk. I just didn’t expect her to arrive so quickly!”
Molly is now 21 and about to graduate U of O with a degree in elementary education. She and her husband, Les, also have a son, Nat, 25, who will be training to become a firefighter/paramedic. He has one daughter, Ella, who is 4 and is “the light of her granny’s heart.”
Dr. Lannan and Les will be moving to the retirement home they are building on the Deschutes River near Bend. She is looking forward to more leisure time.
“I want to paddle my kayak, and sit on my dock and watch the river flow by. I want to spend more time with my granddaughter. I want to hike, ski, camp, cook in my fantastic new chef’s kitchen, take some cooking classes, knit, spin (I haven’t had time to use my spinning wheel in a few years) and do all the other things I haven’t had time to do in the last 28 years. We want to do a little travelling, too. I have a lot of books to catch up on. I want to watch LOTS of college sports, especially my Ducks. “
She is not ending her medical career entirely; she plans to work at St. Charles Medical Center Immediate Care in Bend a few shifts a month.
Dr. Lannan said she enjoyed “the sense of family” in both the Internal Medicine and ICC departments. “I will miss our amazing staff and patients most of all,” she said.
“It has been such a privilege to be a part of my patients’ lives, especially as they faced challenging illnesses. It has been so rewarding to feel that I actually made a difference for some people, and that I was able to help or provide comfort in someone’s time of need.
“The most cherished memories are of the times someone has come back or written me to tell me how I helped them or what my care meant to them. Just recently I got a letter that started ‘Dear Dr. Robin, you are my hero.’ There is just no comparison to what a wonderful feeling that is.”