Sons follow their dads' medical footsteps

by TOI Admin June 17, 2013

Staff writer

As a child, Dr. Jamie Berk remembers waking up in the middle of the night and seeing his father, Marvin, a radiologist, in his room looking on a computer monitor at patients' CT scan results that had come through the phone line.

Coincidentally, Jamie Berk, the youngest of four boys, would be the only son to follow his father into medicine.

Today Marvin and Jamie greet each other at Jamie Berk's office at The Orthopaedic Institute in Alachua with a gregarious father-son hug.

They also can talk shop with the ease of colleagues — although Jamie practices primary care orthopedics and treats mostly athletes for sports injuries, and his father spent his career taking and interpreting radiological scans.

The Berks are emblematic of a storied tradition of the sons of physicians also becoming physicians. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, followed his father, Heraclides, into medicine, and Hippocrates' two sons and son-in-law were his students.

“The father has to walk a narrow road of encouraging a different pathway and encouraging (medicine),” said Marvin Berk, who is now retired from practicing at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Jacksonville. He lives with his wife, Helen, at Oak Hammock, a retirement community in Gainesville.

“I wanted him to understand that it was hard work, and that it has got to be something that you really want to do; otherwise it won't come,” Marvin Berk said. “But it's very gratifying.”

For Jamie Berk, the path to medicine came naturally: He was good at science in school and worked as a hospital orderly in high school. He attended Vanderbilt and the University of Florida College of Medicine and then worked with an orthopedic surgeon of the Charlotte Hornets basketball team and the Carolina Panthers football team.

“I did try to influence him minimally towards radiology,” Marvin Berk said. “But he wanted more patient contact.”

Many of his son's patients are athletes (Jamie Berk is also the team physician for the Lake Butler football team), and his exam rooms are organized thematically by sports, resembling mini halls of fame, with antique tennis rackets and a well-worn umpire's vest hanging on the walls.

Jamie Berk said that although he went into a different branch of medicine, his dad taught him a lot.

“My dad was a hard worker. I always remembered that he was tireless,” Jamie Berk said. “On top of that, he was able to be a wonderful father.”

Jamie Berk also said he didn't feel pressured to go into medicine. Two of his brothers are scientists, and one owns a construction company.

“He (dad) just wanted us to be happy,” Jamie Berk said, adding, “I think he's happy I did (medicine).”


 For access to the full article, courtesy of The Gainesville Sun, visit:

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