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Home Office TV

Presented by Amy Bibeau, Dr. Sue Bauer
Originally aired on 

In celebration of Women's Empowerment month, Amy will be interviewing her sister, Dr. Susan Bauer, DO!

We plan to chat about her non-traditional path through medical school, what it's been like working as a healthcare provider in rural Minnesota, and how it's going being the mom of five adopted boys, especially during a global pandemic!


Transcript (Beta)

Hello, welcome to Home Office TV. I'm Amy Bibeau and today we are doing a special Women's Empowerment Month segment and I have my first external guest.

So I'd like to welcome my baby sister, Dr.

Susan Bauer. Dr. Bauer, welcome. Hey, thanks Amy.

How are you guys doing out in California today? I'm living the dream as per the usual.

So I just want to give a little introduction. My sister Susan is a doctor in rural Minnesota.

And Sue, where do you practice medicine? Park Rapids, Minnesota.

So the northwest part of the state. The lakes country. The lakes area, yeah.

So Susie's up in the lakes area. And so Dr. Bauer, you have a little bit of a non-traditional journey to med school.

Do you want to tell us a little bit about what made you decide to go to med school and how that went for you?

So, I mean, as Amy knows, all my life I wanted to be a doctor.

My whole life. There was never a time when I didn't want to be either a veterinarian or a doctor.

At some point I realized veterinary medicine is probably not my calling.

Because if you can't watch the dog get rescued on animal planet, even though you know the dog's going to get rescued and the dog's not going to die because it's an animal planet and everything's going to be fine, but you can't watch it without crying.

You know, and you've seen it 10 times and you still know that everything's going to be okay and you still cry.

It's probably not the thing for you. So I decided that medicine, human medicine, was really probably more a better fit for me.

And had worked in biotechnology for years, you know, a dozen years or more, and really just couldn't find passion in that and find what I really liked to do.

And so really decided to go back to school.

So at 33, I made a concerted effort to go back to school and improve my standing so that I could apply to medical school.

And was able to get into medical school my first try after being shot down from physician assistant school, nursing school, rad tech school, med tech school, every other kind of thing that I could have tried.

They literally said, no, we don't want you. And so I applied to medical school one time and was accepted basically immediately.

So I started medical school just before my 36th birthday and have never regretted a day since then.

Just always has been, I've always just been absolutely happy with my choice.

I just want to give a little background for our people too. So when my sister applied to medical school, she actually, she was living in Minnesota.

Her husband had moved to Colorado because the job market was better there.

And they also wanted to be more in Colorado and more in the mountains.

Susie's first acceptance was to a med school in Pennsylvania in Erie.

So she got accepted to Pennsylvania. They were trying to figure out how they were going to do Susie's, Susie's a DO, an osteopathic doctor.

And so she, she was almost going to have to go to school in Pennsylvania.

And she was out in Colorado visiting her husband and she had gotten, she had previously gotten not accepted to the school that was in Colorado that it was newly accredited.

It was, it was just like, it was its first kind of run. So you were in Colorado and what happened?

You got a phone call? So right before Christmas, I'm sitting on the couch doing nothing because what had happened is I had actually, I'd gotten a job in Colorado, got fired from said job in Colorado six weeks after I started knew that I had an acceptance though.

And so I was like, I'm not, you know, concerted effort to go back to work here.

Like whatever Christmas right before Christmas, get a call.

Hey, we want to interview. And I said, true. There must be a mistake from the school in Colorado.

I said, there must be a mistake. You guys have already rejected me.

I don't know how I'm even on your list. Like you rejected me in August.

And they said, well, we feel that that was a mistake. And would you like to interview?

We have slots open in January. And I said, I can interview anytime.

I live two miles away from your school. I live in, you know, these, whatever apartments and the woman on the phone is like, I live in those apartments.

And she's like, hold on. So she puts me on hold on hold for a while. She comes back.

Can you interview today? Yes. The answer is yes. Yes, I can. So I got up, got ready, went over for an interview at like two o'clock in the afternoon.

And by four 30, walking out the door was told you have an acceptance. We, we can, we feel that we had made a mistake initially, and we're going to reconsider your application.

You know, we reconsidered you and we're accepting you. And again, never a day of regret has gone by.

I mean, that's an awesome story. I wanted to share that story because it's like, it was so synchronistic, like everything really lined up for you, you know, because I mean, I was trying to imagine how my, my sister was gonna live in Pennsylvania and go to med school by herself while her husband was in Colorado.

And I was, I was pretty concerned as I was really praying hard, you know, that, and then so yes, as soon as we got into school in Colorado, and then you did your residency, do you want to tell us a little bit about?

So I tried to actually come back to Minnesota for residency didn't work out, ended up in New Mexico of all places.

And I used to make a joke that the universe is dyslexic, because I was supposed to go to MN, not NM.

And that the universe, like clearly, I was supposed to go to closer to Canada, but ended up actually 30 minutes from the border of Mexico.

You know, and found actually that the people in New Mexico are amazing, that New Mexico itself is amazing.

And, you know, really had to stop and go, okay, what life lesson or what, what part of life am I, am I here for?

There's got to be a reason that I'm in New Mexico instead of Minnesota.

You know, what's the, what's the deal? And did my first year in Las Cruces, again, you know, 30, 30 minutes, basically from the Mexican border.

Second year, moved to Silver City, which is about three hours from Tucson, two hours from El Paso, kind of if you made a triangle, a little bit in the northern, or, you know, in the little bit north of Tucson and El Paso.

And, you know, landed there for two years, and still, you know, kind of had this, like, well, why am I here?

You know, what brought me to, why, why did the universe bring me to New Mexico?

And, you know, there were some patients that I had that I was like, okay, I was here because this person, like I saved this person's life, not somebody else, like me.

You know, and I had these cases that I thought, like, that's why I came to New Mexico.

But the reality was, like, I came to New Mexico. And my husband and I had talked about having kids and things like that.

And, and I just said, you know, I just, I don't really want to, you know, go for fertility treatments, or like, spend $40,000 on a fertility treatment that might not work.

Like, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't.

And so we looked into adopting kids. And I met one day in the ER, I have, I have permission to sell this story.

I met the director of our local, the local CPS, so to speak, the local, you know, foster care through the county.

And I met her in the ER, because she was there having, you know, pain, and I'm helping deal with her pain.

And I said, hey, you really need to, you know, figure out a way to de-stress your life.

And she said, well, my job is never not going to be stressful.

And I said, well, what do you do? And she said, I work for, you know, with foster kids and, and having to, to deal with, you know, kids that are in bad situations.

And I was like, oh, my God, well, one, we can't have you quit your job, we need you.

Like, the world needs people helping kids. And two, like, oh, my God, yeah, that's super stressful.

And she and I started discussing, you know, adopting kids and stuff like that.

And I said, you know, we wanted a non -traditional kind of route.

We didn't want a baby. We don't want little kids. We wanted older kids that, you know, are able to take care of themselves a little bit more and, and kids that are really in high need.

Yep, yep, yep. Very much harder to place.

Older kids, a lot of people want like a, they want a baby, they want, they want maybe something that hasn't already gone through, you know, so much trauma, you know, a little, you can kind of mold that younger child, you know, to grow up in your family.

So that's a more desirable route. And so there's oftentimes in foster care and in need of adoption, there's older kids and sibling groups.

Right. And they get, they get left behind.

And so we had said like, we wanted to adopt maybe two to three kids through the foster system, kids that, you know, they, they have more need.

They, they have higher needs, but they also, you know, there's, there's no way that you can't tell me that kids can develop love or, you know, that we can get through this stuff too.

So we looked at that and then initially the two kids that we had looked at, they stayed with their family.

The family had initially said that they weren't going to adopt.

And then they had changed their minds and they stayed with their family, which is great because that's always the best and ended up adopting five brothers instead.

And so five, five brothers, right.

All brothers from the same parents whose dad had died from a, a heroin overdose, heroin and meth overdose.

And their mom had bipolar and drug addiction issues that she herself said, I cannot do this on my own.

I can't take care of these kids.

And I, and I don't have the emotional ability and I don't have the financial ability and I, I can't do this.

And so she willfully gave up custody and we adopted them.

And so that was really the reason I went to New Mexico, right. Was not only to help people in the community from a medical standpoint, but also to, to help these boys, you know, have a, have a different path in life.


So basically you had to kind of convince your hubby that, you know, I remember like, you know, he, he wasn't like at first jumping at the chance to have, you know, five new children, but Susie is convincing.

We share that trait. I would say that Susie and I are both we're passionate, you know, we're, we're passionate about things where we both have strong, we have a strong kind of belief system about what's wrong.

And we do like to try to bring others around to our point of view.

So I would imagine Susie used some of her skills that she spent her life developing and convinced Adam to adopt five boys and then swooped them all up and moved them from rural New Mexico to, to Northern Minnesota.

Now they live on a lake and, you know, have, and to be honest, yep.

And to be honest, the really none of, none of them regret that, you know, I mean, they, they do miss the weather of New Mexico and, and sometimes they miss their old friends in New Mexico.

The older, the older to miss some of their friends in New Mexico, but the younger three don't really have any, they don't, they much prefer coming up here.

They have, you know, could go swimming all the time.

They get to go fishing all the time. They never, you know, had this relationship with family that they get to have now where, you know, they have people that come and visit them that want to come and see them, you know, and have this whole relationship that they didn't have before.

And they really enjoy that. I think a lot more than, than just the dryness in New Mexico that they would have had.

So. I mean, when I went to visit Susie, so, so, I mean, as her sister, I, I was part of some of these adventures.

I helped Susie when she moved from her house in Colorado.

I drove one of the vehicles down to, I think it even had a trailer on it.

I was, I was nervous. You had the trailer with the motorcycles?

I had a red truck with a trailer with some motorcycles and I drove down and I was present when Susie's husband was back in Minnesota doing some work on some of their properties.

And so when the boys actually arrived, we didn't really know when they were going to come.

They came on the summer solstice in 2018 and I had a break in what I was doing and I was able to drive down and be there.

I kind of wanted the kids to know that they have a crazy aunt, you know, like, like, okay, you're, you're getting a family, you're getting, you're getting a new mom type, but you're also getting a crazy aunt.

And I'm going to be bad at remembering birthdays on time, but you are going to have a crazy aunt.

But to be fair, it's probably two crazy aunts, right? I mean, there's probably two, there's two crazy aunts and a crazy, and a crazy uncle, you know, a bit.

So I don't know if we can call Craig crazy. I mean, he's, he's definitely like, he's, he, he's going to be mischievous.

He might encourage boys to make mischief, but I'm like the, I'm more the, the, the wackadoodle one.

So, so speaking of this, then how did it go?

How was the transition to schooling five children in a school to then, you know, being a doctor and then homeschooling?

Cause I know Adam was like, okay, yeah, we can have kids.

They're going to go to school during the day. And then, and then COVID at home and then COVID happened.

Yeah. So that was a real challenge for Adam.

And to be honest, I don't, I don't blame him. Like when I, you know, the, the older four did okay at home, they, they didn't struggle as much the youngest he alone could occupy the entire, all of the children and Adam's time, you know, initially when he was trying to do this stuff to get him to stay on task, you'd literally be like, stay on desk.

And he, and he couldn't, and he just, he just can't.

Yeah. He just couldn't do it, but he you know, that was partly when that all happened, you know, initially, basically all of last year until they went back to school.

I mean, it was almost a full year that they were homeschooled.

Um, I would come home and do what I could, you know, to take care of kids needing to do homework or working on stuff like that and let Adam have his time away so that he doesn't go insane.

And then also would do, um, you know, I would, I would, to be honest, I would, I got to have my eight hour break, even though that's work.

Um, but for me, work is a joy. I like my job, even when it's hard, I still love my job.

So it's something that I, I still get to be away from home. Um, and so to be honest, you know, Adam said, I want to go to the cabin and I'm leaving you guys behind.

I said, okay, go to the cabin and, and we'll, you know, I'll deal with it.

Um, because for the amount of time and effort that he had put into all of this, I've, you know, I still really feel he deserves, um, vacation time away too, because that's, it's important to, for everybody's mental health, um, you know, to get time away from the people that they're, you know, so to speak confined with, especially in COVID when it really became, um, for a lot of people confinement, you're, you're stuck at home with, um, you know, with these people 24 seven.

So, and that's, you know, it's not good for kids necessarily, but it's not good for adults either.

When they're used to being able to, to go and, you know, go to the store and, and do that stuff.

And, and now it's like, oh my God, I, I have to be home to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

And so, and that was the whole thing.

Um, I'm, they are, the kids are, are happy that they got to go back in January when I was able to get vaccinated.

Um, you know, and so they're back in school and they love, they love being back in school.

Their grades have all improved, um, going back to school.

So, and, and you, we also, I'll give a shout out to our other sister, Kayla, who, um, came in for a while.

So we had, we didn't have another ally in the family.

We had a little for this, the, the false fall term, basically the fall trimester.

Yep. She was there to help. And, and that was really helpful for, for Adam to be able to have somebody that to be honest, had more patients, the little one with the littlest one.

So, so, and how has it been feeling, you know, as a practitioner, as a medical practitioner right now, you know, obviously you been in your practice for just a couple of years now, we're kind of going, this is your second year of being in practice and basically got nailed with a pandemic like right away.

And, um, trial by fire, as mom said, I feel like your County, the cases probably never got super high, hopefully, cause it's a bit more people are spread out.

Um, and how's the vaccination process? Is it, is it going well in Minnesota?

People are, so I believe that Minnesota is in the top 10. I think initially it was really slow.

Um, and we were really frustrated as providers that, you know, Hey, if, if there's a delay because you can't get it in people's arms, like I'm, you know, we're thousands of providers, nurses, and doctors were, were willing to volunteer their time to the state, um, to help get shots into people's arms.

Um, and so we were kind of frustrated, but now Minnesota has, has gotten it together and they are just killing it.

We are, I think in the top 10, as far as getting vaccines into people's arms from the time we get them to getting them into people, um, has decreased to like under 10 days or something like that.

So, you know, as soon as the state gets them, they get delivered to, to clinics and they get, um, to clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and they, and they get back, you know, they're getting people vaccinated.

Right. So Susie and I were talking, I I'm the one who gets to call her Susie.

Y'all know that it takes a really long time.

I mean, you know, like obviously a lot of us who aren't medical professionals, we don't know like how long it takes to make a vaccine because they have to develop it, get approval, and then they actually have to create the actual vaccine.

And so we were discussing that the Pfizer, Moderna, Moderna vaccines are, um, they're able to produce them a lot faster than the, um, than the more traditional vaccine process.

So a standard vaccine, um, up until this point, a standard rollout for a vaccine is, is about a 10 year process.

Um, five to 10 years, it takes to figure out what you're going to do, like what component you're vaccinating against that will work against, you know, these different viruses or different bacteria.

Like what part do you vaccinate against? What's going to stay consistent between different strains?

Um, you know, bacteria and viruses grow very quickly.

So that means they mutate very fast. So you need something that stays the same, um, throughout all of these different viruses.

That's been the problem with things like hepatitis C or HIV, why we don't have a vaccine for those as they mutate so quickly.

We just haven't found that component of them that stays the same all the time that your body can be immune to.

Um, but stuff like flu, you know, that process is a six to 10 year process typically.

And even just to make it once you decide, okay, we're going to make a virus against H3N1, you know, or H1N1 or H5N1 or whichever one, um, you know, and you take this and it takes a little, literally at least six months to make it from, okay, we know what we want to make.

And we have that section to injecting it into literally millions of chicken eggs and then harvesting those chicken eggs weeks, you know, later while that virus has grown up in that egg and then processing that and then turning it into a vaccine, you're looking at a minimum of six months to a year to make that process happen.

Um, which is frequently why the flu vaccine is very ineffective.

It's a great example as far as, you know, we try to do this, but by the time the flu comes around every year, it's different sometimes from what we even thought it would be.

By contrast, this Moderna Pfizer vaccine that they're able to make there, they've literally cut it down to a 60 to 90 day process where we know what we're making.

We have this stuff and we can grow it and process it and get it into a vial to be shipped out within, you know, under 90 days.

It's unheard of. It's just, it's, it's insanely fast.

It doesn't have the egg process. It does not have the egg process.

It's actually in a giant kind of reactor type thing. And to, for lack of a better term, it's, it's lots of, um, DNA type components, RNA components, all together with, um, what are called polymerases, which are things that help us join those components together.

And it makes it, um, based off of a little bit of DNA segment that we have or RNA segment that we have in it.

And it literally can copy it and then process it, centrifuge out what they need to get rid of.

And now they have loads and loads and loads of that. And then they bundle it for foot for Pfizer and Moderna.

They bundle it basically in a little, in a little bubble of fat, um, that your cell can take into the cell wall.

It kind of just incorporates into the cell wall and you're good to go as soon as, and then they can inject it into your arm.

I mean, it's, it's just that fast. It's, it's a 90 day, like you said, 90 days is insanely fast for a vaccine.

Most vaccines we're looking at a year, um, for production six months to a year, like I said, with, with the flu vaccine, um, and this new process that Moderna and Pfizer, you need, you know, that's three months, that's two to three months.

So are you pretty hopeful we can get, I mean, obviously none of us really know, but, um, you know, as it's rolling out, um, what's the thing that you're looking forward to, you know, once we don't have like, once we're not living in this, um, you know, more cautious world, what's the, um, what's the thing that you're looking forward to the most?

Um, to be honest, seeing, you know, I mean, I just like everybody, I want to see my family and friends again.

I want to be able to see people. Um, I'd really like to go somewhere.

Um, I'd like to, to take my mom somewhere so that she can go see some part of the world that she hasn't seen that she wants to go see.

I would like to take my kids somewhere, but, um, you know, we'll see what happens as far as that goes, but if nothing else, you know, at a minimum, I would really like for everybody to also not have to, you know, we're all still wearing masks and doing our due diligence and stuff like that.

And it would be nice for, you know, I can't wait for everybody to actually be able to see their faces again.

You know, when we go out and you can actually see what people look like again.

Um, have you learned anything about yourself going through this process?

Um, like the whole, like the, the COVID or the whole thing?

Yeah. Like the whole COVID process. So, you know, I kind of, I kind of laugh about the memes on Facebook about Gen X that we were the latchkey kids and, you know, we were able to like, Oh, well we have to just stay home and, and watch TV and deal with this.

Like, okay. You know, that's my thing. It's all right.

Um, for me, the biggest thing has been trying to deal with more stress of, you know, you don't get to see people, um, but that, and that has been a stress, but also just learning, um, better coping strategies and things like that.

It it's, and, and letting my patients know that you're not alone and feeling like that you don't know what to do, right.

That you're overwhelmed because we're all overwhelmed, right.

No one was prepared for a pandemic. No one has that as a coping mechanism because no one's gone through it.

So, and trying to remember that, you know, the expectations we hold of ourselves sometimes are a little bit too high and, you know, to give ourselves some, some leeway on, on where we're at in life.

So yeah, some self-compassion. That's something that I talk about. I think on my show, like, you know, be gentle with yourself, self-care, like make sure you get some nature time.

Uh, Susan doesn't have a problem. She lives on a lake.

So she gets to have nature time. I had to re look at it. I think that, um, you know, what I'm finding is like this, this COVID, you know, this pandemics kind of can challenge some of our ideas of our identity and who we are, the things we identify with.

It's like, Hey, I used to be that person that used to go out and, you know, I would watch sports and we would go to games.

We would do that or like I used to do, I used to go to concerts and festivals and like, how do we reconcile our identity, like our vision of who are, who we are and, and, and Lynn, and then what our life actually looks like.

So I've been, I've been pursuing like more clarity and I think it gives us all kind of that chance.

So what's the best part of your job now that you, you know, you kind of were in this dead end biomedical, you went back to school.

What's your favorite part of your job now that you, you got to realize your dream of being a doctor.

The best thing about my job, hands down is walking into a room, meeting somebody first time, many time doesn't matter, listening to what it is that's wrong, right?

Nobody comes to the doctor for nothing, right?

We have well, well adult and well child check, sure. Which, you know, is kind of coming in for nothing, but to make sure that you're healthy.

But coming in when somebody has a problem and, and being able to say, okay, let's try this thing.

I think I have a solution and having somebody walk out in a better frame of mind about their life than they walked in with.

Right. And that's the thing that hands down brings me joy every day, because every day I get to tell somebody we have a problem.

This is how we're going to fix it. You know, this is what it, you know, it's going to take.

And I'm here with you to help you. And do you have any advice for people who, you know, want to do something different and they, they might be intimidated to go back to school and maybe they're in their thirties or forties or, you know, like, do you have any advice?

So one of the things I think, so Warren Miller was a ski guy and he used to always say, you know, do it now because when you wait until next year, you're just another year older when you finally do it.

And that to me is a sound piece of advice.

Even though you're intimidated to do something, it's worth it.

You know, one of the ways that I used to look at my life in biotech was I looked at, you know, okay, it's going to take me till I'm 75 to retire.

I'll never have enough money saved until I have to retire. Like the day that I, you know, I can't physically work anymore is the day that I'll have to stop working.

And thinking about the fact that that was 35 to 40 years of not loving my life.

And that if I'm going to live that long and not enjoy it, that that's not okay.

That's not why we're on the planet in the first place. And so I really decided like what, like that one, I should be happy in my life.

And if I'm going to have to work till I'm 75 anyways, then I might as well enjoy it.

And two, what legacy am I leaving to my children by giving up on my dreams, right?

That if I have a dream and I want to do something and then I say, I gave up on it.

I just didn't do it.

I was afraid. I didn't do it. What does that teach our children? What does that teach our grandchildren versus I have a dream, I went for it, I made it, I got it.

And being inspiring, right, to your children to show them you can do the things that you put your mind to.

And I think it's really important that we, especially as women, model that for our kids that you can do the thing that you want to do and you need to try.

That's awesome. We are right at time. So I just want to say thank you.

You are so welcome. Thanks for inviting me.

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