by Mary Guiden
Andrew Cuomo, Colin Hanks and Nick Montana carry on family legacies in politics, acting and football. Let’s add to that list a few local doctors, including recent UW School of Medicine graduates Daniel J. Benedetti, M.D. ’11, and Jennifer “Jennie” Wild, M.D. ’11 (both are first-year residents in pediatrics), and a veteran, Richard C. Veith, M.D. ’73, Res. ’77, chair of UW Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Veith’s family includes four generations of doctors based in Washington state, and he became a doctor after hearing stories about his grandfather, Michael Maguire, M.D. One tale he remembers is that his grandfather would travel by snowshoe into the Yakima Nation to deliver care to patients. Maguire helped launch what is now known as the Yakima Regional Medical & Cardiac Center in November 1919.
“We have a strong family culture of taking care of others,” Veith said. Veith’s uncle, Joe Maguire, was a surgeon, and his brother, Robert G. Veith, M.D. ’76, Res. ’81, is an orthopaedic surgeon who volunteers on a regular basis in Haiti and Vietnam. Rob, now based at Valley Medical Center, previously worked at Harborview Medical Center.
Ryan R. Veith, M.D. ’03, Res. ’07, one of Richard’s sons, is an anesthesiologist at Evergreen Medical Center. Another son, David, is still in college but is on the medical path. He has spent summers in both India and Ecuador shadowing medical providers. This summer, he worked in the Radich Lab at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, learning about leukemia. And the elder Veith is married to a doctor, too: Marcella Pascualy, M.D., Res. ’88, a UW associate professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. But wait, that’s not all; Veith’s maternal aunt, Katie, and sister, Peg, both landed in nursing. And daughter, Carly, is a family therapist who works with at-risk youth in foster care.
Barbara Veith, Richard’s mother, said she traveled with her father, Dr. Maguire, on medical visits to a reservation when she was only five years old. “He had an old Ford that he’d take, and it had rumble seats,” she said, referring to an exterior seat that opens out from the rear deck of an automobile. “I rode a pinto pony while he was taking care of his patients.”
Barbara, 87, said she didn’t steer any of her eight children into the medical profession. “I just wanted them to grow up to be good, nice people,” she said.
Dan Benedetti said he first considered medicine when he went to college and thought about what courses to take. As a youngster, he remembers going to his dad’s office at UW Medical Center and being quite fond of the jelly beans his dad, Thomas J. Benedetti, M.D. ’73, MHA — a UW professor in obstetrics and gynecology — kept in a jar.
His mother, Jacqueline K. Benedetti, Ph.D. ’74, a UW professor of biostatistics who also works at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, recently told him that when he was 10 years old, someone asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. “I want to be a professional baseball player, or soccer player, or basketball player,” he answered. “And if I can’t do that, I’ll be a doctor.”
Dan knew early on that he enjoyed working with kids. “I was a coach in baseball and soccer growing up,” he said. “In high school, I was a coach every summer, and I also did a lot of volunteer work in college with kids.”
While taking part after college in AmeriCorps, a national volunteer service program similar to the Peace Corps, he worked in an elementary school in South Seattle as a tutor and mentor. “I got a glimpse of what it would be like to work in a school,” Benedetti said. “My interest in kids was health care-specific, and I decided that being a teacher was not for me.”
Like Benedetti, Jennie Wild — the daughter of Lorie Wild, Ph.D., the chief nursing officer at UW Medical Center, and Silas Wild, a retired software architect at the UW School of
Medicine — also volunteered with AmeriCorps. She spent one year in Denver, Colo., working at a community health clinic. The job was intense. “I worked as a doula for patients who were primarily Spanish-speaking single mothers between the ages of 16 to 30,” she said. She taught numerous classes related to pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care and sex education.
“That really solidified what I wanted to do and where I wanted to work,” she said. “That’s when I applied to medical school. I was fortunate enough to be accepted at the University of Washington.”
In college, Wild worked with Ernest U. “Chappie” Conrad III, M.D., UW professor of orthopaedics and sports medicine. She also interned at ZymoGenetics, a Seattle-based biotech, as part of a renal cell carcinoma immunotherapy project. “I enjoyed the lab,” she said. “But I decided that the thing I missed most was the interaction with patients and families.”
Benedetti said that he tapped into family connections to help learn more about the medical field. “Through my mom’s work, I found the orthopaedic surgeon I worked with for several summers,” he said. “Dad set me up with a pediatrician that he knew through a book club to shadow, too.”
His parents were realistic, discussing both the rewards and challenges. “Dad didn’t just portray medicine as a great and noble profession,” Benedetti said. “He also pointed out the challenges and made sure that I was aware of them in making the decision. My parents were a big influence on my decision, mostly because they were able to flesh out whether it was the right one for me.”
One challenge that Benedetti faced in pursuing medicine is a situation not unlike that faced by Andrew Cuomo, Colin Hanks or Nick Montana. “It was very hard and is still very hard to escape my father’s name,” he said candidly. “He is a well-known person in the medical community, and I had to figure out early on how to make a name for myself, so that I wasn’t always ‘Dr. Benedetti’s son.’”
The younger Benedetti said he achieved independence by finding different interests and activities. He became very involved with medical student leadership, for example. And he worked with and got to know a lot of different people at the UW School of Medicine. “That way, people got to know me personally,” he said. “What I did and accomplished helped distance me in some ways.”
Wild chuckled when asked if she had any difficulties setting herself apart from the high-profile position her mom holds. “My mom tries to respect my autonomy,” said Wild. “During my education and my rotations, if she knew my attending physicians or preceptors, she did not tell them that I was her daughter until after the fact or until I brought it up with them.”
It used to make Dan Benedetti anxious when people asked him if he was Tom Benedetti’s son. “At first, it was nerve-wracking for me to overcome that,” he said. But now that he’s established his independence, all he feels is pride — pride in his family’s medical tradition.