Dr. Eric Caplan
1. Who or what inspired you to become a physician?
Great question! I had asthma and allergies since I was two. My mom was an ER physician (Marilyn Gifford, MD), and she knew she did not know enough to take care of asthma and allergies long-term. She got me with allergist Jerry Buckley, MD, Colorado Allergy and Asthma, PC (now retired) in Denver. He was phenomenal. Back then, asthmatic kids were instructed to stay home and not participate in sports. He was the opposite, wanting me out playing football and ski racing. He said it was his job to get me there. He entirely transformed my life, got me active, and interested me in medicine, specifically allergies. He is the biggest reason why I am an allergist.
2. Briefly describe a "peak experience" from your career: interaction with a mentor, memorable patient, etc.
For me, a lot of time, it is working with kids. Working with kids with asthma has been really rewarding because you can have the kiddo unable to participate in sports, really struggling, and give them a diagnosis and treatment plan. Then I see them back with their parents, and their parents say, "Little Suzy" is out playing soccer, running, and is like a new kid. They are sleeping better, more active, and healthier. I get the hug and cry moment. As physicians, we live for those hug-and-cry moments where you get with the patients and their parents. I do like to include food allergies as the other thing. We can un-diagnose a food allergy or have someone allergic to peanuts in the past who is now not allergic to peanuts. They pass the peanut food challenge for the first time when they are eating peanuts; that is another hug and cry moment that we get. Those are two fun moments for me.
3. What led you to become involved in El Paso County Medical Society leadership?
My mom (Marilyn Gifford, MD) was a significant factor. Again, she was an ER physician, Medical Director of Memorial Hospital (now UCHealth Memorial), and heavily involved in EPCMS and CMS, working with the first responders in Colorado Springs. She wrote some pre-hospital protocols for this town, working with firefighters and ambulance crews. When I was an EMT, she was the one who signed off as Medical Director at the time for Colorado Springs. Again, she signed off on my EMT license and was heavily involved in EPCMS. That was an easy transition for me, having a parent who was so involved and passionate about what she did. It was also an easy transition for me to want to be a part of that.
4. What advice would you give to physicians-in-training who are just starting their careers?
Make sure you are passionate about what you are doing. If you are passionate about medicine, this is absolutely a phenomenal, phenomenal job. When I went to medical school, many people were on the fence about medicine business or law. They picked medicine because it seemed cool or it was a prestigious career. If you are not passionate about it is where I see people struggle. If someone is in training, find what you are passionate about and pursue that, whether it is general medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, or surgery. Whatever it is, if you are passionate about it, you are driven to learn about it, you are urged to succeed in it, and you will be successful with it. Find that passion; don't go through passively. Make sure you are active in that.
5. What do you enjoy doing outside of medicine?
Family! My wife and kids take up all of my time now. I used to ski race. I used to have more of an outside life. My kids are heavily involved in sports, singing, and academics. So, everything I do, I do for them. Keeping up with the family is what I do outside of work.