Surgical Associates of the CASCADES
John C. Land, M.D.
Dr. John Land received his Medical Doctorate degree in 1996 from Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Willamette University in Salem. Dr. Land completed his General Surgery Residency at the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. Prior to SAC, Dr. Land worked at Bend Memorial Clinic.
When asked why he wanted to become a surgeon, Dr. John Land assumes a faux, philosophical look and deadpans, "Baseball." Most of his patients look quizically at him, waiting for a better explanation. "Well, my brother was a starting second baseman at Willamette University and when I was 18, I was awarded a scholarship to play baseball there also. As a kid, I wanted to be a pharmacist, but Willamette didn't have a pharmacy program. I always knew I would do something in the medical field, somehow interacting with people to help alleviate their suffering, so I decided to go to med school instead. That way I could stay at Willamette and play ball with my brother. So in a way, baseball is why I am where I am today."
Dr. Land often uses humor to lessen patients' anxiety about surgery. It's one of many techniques he uses to establish a patient's trust. "It's normal for me to perform a colonoscopy, sometimes I do 15 or 16 a day. But that's typically the first one for my patient and they're freaked out about it. So I have to remember that and take the time to establish their trust, explain to them what I'm doing, why it's necessary, all while trying to put them at ease. I tell a lot of jokes, which seems to work. In general, I just try and be approachable."
He also spends quite a bit of time chatting with patients about their lives so that he gets to know them as more than a patient, and he uses plain language to explain procedures thoroughly so that his patients know exactly what he plans to do.
"There's a lot of continuity when I see a patient. I meet with them first and then examine them before diagnosing them. And I'm the one who performs their surgery. In a lot of other places, it doesn't work like that." Dr. Land would know. He finished his residency in Seattle at Virginia Mason Medical Center, a large, multi-speciality clinic of more than 480 physicians and several, smaller neighborhood clinics throughout the Seattle area. Although he enjoyed his residency thoroughly, Dr. Land knew that he wanted a smaller practice.
"In a big hospital, you'll first meet with a nurse, then maybe a med student or physician's assistant who'll perform a diagnostic test on you, and by the time you actually meet the surgeon, you've already had a diagnosis and been told what surgery to have. So when you meet, the surgeon doesn't necessarily take the time to get to know you. The intake and diagnosis process has already happened."
Dr. Land, an Oregon native, was born and raised in Sweet Home. After graduating from Willamette University, he attended OHSU medical school in Portland and realized halfway through that surgery was his calling. "In med school, they were talking about these family practice doctors who live in rural Oregon and get to do everything -- general practice, surgery, obstetrics, the whole range of medicine -- and I thought that was really cool. But the coolest part was that they get to operate."
Many of Dr. Land's classmates chose specific areas of surgery to specialize in, but he preferred the variety and breadth of general surgery, a speciality in and of itself. "Where I work now, I operate on almost everything, from head to foot. In a big city, you have to pick an area and that's your one thing, you always do the same surgery. It stops being a unique and different surgery and becomes just another routine you do every day."
The variety inherent in being a general surgeon is what keeps Dr. Land passionate about his work. It also constantly challenges him. Dr. Land subscribes to numerous medical journals so he can stay up-to-date on latest innovations and techniques in surgery. He is a co-author on several research papers about surgical procedures, attends conferences to learn new surgical techniques and also gives presentations on his work.
For all of Dr. Land's expertise, he still has a simple philosophy to his medical practice. "I try to approach patients with the attitude, 'what would I do if this patient was my mom, or my dad or my wife or daughter?' That way, I can go to bed at night and rest easy knowing that I've treated my patients the way I would treat my family."
When he isn't working or trying to keep up with his wife Lena and their twin, 7-year-old daughters, Dr. Land spends much of his time reading or riding his motorcycle. "It sounds strange, but I find such peace of mind when I'm riding my bike. They told me when I bought it that when you're on a motorcycle, you have to concentrate, you can't think about anything else or you'll crash. My wife thinks I'm crazy and my girls think I'm the coolest. They keep begging me to take them for a ride, but I don't think Lena would be too happy with me if I did."