What is your hometown?
I was born and raised in Des Moines, IA, but have lived in Cedar Rapids, IA since 1971.
What is your official title?
Mark James Tyler, M.D., ABFP
How/when did you become interested in science and medicine and why did you decide to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?
I had great role models. My grandfather was an Osteopathic Physician, but chose to be a Presbyterian minister most of his adult life. Two uncles were also physicians, one a Pathologist and the other a Family Physician. I was also greatly influenced by my father’s terminal illness and my desire to understand his illness and diagnosis.
Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc.
I served as a flight surgeon in the United States Air Force from 1969-1971. I became board certified in Family Medicine in 1976, and recertified every six years since. I am now a Fellow in Family Medicine. I have served both local hospitals (Mercy and St. Luke’s) on numerous boards and committees. I have served as Chief of Staff for both Cedar Rapids hospitals. I have been a Linn County delegate to the Iowa Medical Society annual meetings and have served on several committees. I have also served as president of the Linn County Medical Society. I have been a preceptor for many medical students in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. I am also an ongoing volunteer for over 20 years at our outstanding Free Medical Clinic in Cedar Rapids, IA.
I could not have achieved my rewards nor the satisfaction that I possess were it not for the love and support of my brother, sister and subsequently my wife/life partner, son and daughter. They have allowed me to be who I am today and I am eternally grateful for their love and presence in my life.
Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?
I have very fond memories and great admiration for three professors during my clinical years at the University of Iowa: Dr. Paul Seebohm, Internist; Dr. James Bell, Pediatrician/Neurologist; Dr. Ken Dolan, Radiologist. All three were wonderful teachers and mentors, but even more important, they were great human beings.
How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?
I chose the University of Iowa for medical school not only for its great reputation but because it was my home state University. Truth be told, it was the only school I applied to.
What kind of professional opportunities or advantages has your University of Iowa medical training provided?
I believe I was provided all of the "tools" necessary as a medical student to become a very successful physician, no matter what specialty I chose. My education opened many doors and I was respected due to my education and skills.
Please describe your professional interests.
I have mentored many medical students from the University of Iowa and Residents from our Family Practice Residency here in Cedar Rapids. In fact, my two partners of 25 years were both graduates of the local residency program. I am a passionate advocate of medicine and primary care specifically. As noted, I have served both local hospitals here as well as our County and State Societies. We must, as physicians, become involved and vocal with our concerns and solutions in the years ahead. In my opinion, if we choose not to we will have failed ourselves and subsequent generations.
What are some of your outside interests?
My wife, Karen, and I love to travel and have visited almost all of the states as well as Europe and the Caribbean. As an officer in the Air Force I traveled to South America, the Azores, and Republic of Vietnam. We are bicyclists and ride as often as we can on the trails here in Cedar Rapids as well as the trails along the Root River in southern Minnesota. I have participated in RAGBRAI six times plus segments of many others. A New Year’s resolution in 1978, began my “career” as a jogger, I have participated in one marathon and two half marathons. I try to run each year in the Freedom Festival 8K here in Cedar Rapids. I continue to jog every other day if possible, on a year–round schedule. I love to read as it relaxes me and allows me to forget the stresses of the day. I also love to work with wood, draw (usually pen and ink) and write.
Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?
We are teachers/educators in all that we do whether it be academic or primary patient care. The better informed our patients are the more likely they are to adhere to advice and suggestions with reference to their health. Compassion has to be the starting point as we treat our patients as we would wish to be treated, in my opinion. Our patients can be one of our greatest allies as we look to transform medical care in the years ahead. In essence, they must have "skin in the game."
If you could change one thing about the health care system in the United States, what would it be?
I would base reimbursement on benchmark quality parameters being achieved or exceeded by the provider. Quality medicine allows better compliance, fewer contacts with the provider, saves resources and most important, better health care.
What is the biggest change you’ve experienced in medicine since you were a student?
I am repeatedly overwhelmed by the wealth of new knowledge and/or treatment options that are now available not only to the provider, but most importantly to our patients. It would appear that disease states as we now know them are more effectively and successfully treated than in the past. We have cures that one time were not thought to be possible. I am also fascinated with the genetic advances and the possible eradication or modification of gene-linked diseases.
What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?
Be true to yourself as you practice medicine in your chosen specialty. Know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses and play to your strengths. Be passionate advocates for your patients and practice quality and engaging medicine. You have chosen a profession that will reward you beyond all expectations, but at the same time will challenge your core values and spirituality.
What do you see as "the future" of the medicine?
The scientific side of medicine has unlimited potential as far as new drugs, new information and understanding, and the possibility of cures never before imagined. I would hope and pray that we not forget our ‘humanness’ and treat each patient with education, honesty and compassion. We, as physicians, are the everlasting bridge between what is and what would be for our patients.
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