Dr. Ken Brubaker (left) has retired after 44 years as a geriatrician and family physician. In this photo, Dr. Brubaker receives the 2015 Dodd Award from AMDA (The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine).
Working long hours as a physician never fazed Ken Brubaker, M.D.
“I grew up on a farm,” he said. “I was used to getting up at 5 a.m. to milk the cows, going to school, then coming home and working till dark.”
Dr. Brubaker, who recently stopped seeing patients at LG Health Physicians Geriatrics and Masonic Villages, Elizabethtown, said medicine changed a great deal in his 44-year career – mostly for the better. He will continue to work with older adults and educate those who care for them.
After graduating with the LGH Family Medicine Residency Program’s first class in 1973, Dr. Brubaker co-founded Family Medicine Norlanco. In the practice’s early years, he stayed overnight in the office to take call and accepted payment in the form of pecan pie.
The Elizabethtown/Mount Joy area had a physician shortage in the 1970s, and the community raised money to buy land and build the practice. Group practices were uncommon at the time, and Dr. Brubaker and his two partners were told it would never work.
Dr. Brubaker found that he really enjoyed older patients’ wealth of wisdom and desire to build a relationship with their doctor. After completing a fellowship in 1989, he practiced solely in geriatrics, seeing patients at Geriatrics since 1999 and at Masonic Villages since 1991. He also led the LGH Geriatrics Fellowship Program.
During his long career, Dr. Brubaker also did mission work in Puerto Rico and saw patients in Lancaster County Prison. Teaching and learning have always been important parts of his life.
Dr. Brubaker now serves as corporate medical director for Masonic Villages and a board member for the national AMDA Foundation for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. He also speaks regularly on geriatrics topics and leads a caregiver support group with his wife.
In retirement, Dr. Brubaker, 73, will continue to educate others in geriatrics; spend time with his wife, three children and 11 grandchildren; and tend to his large garden and fruit orchard. He also serves as president of Brubaker Families of America, which celebrated its 300th anniversary in Lancaster in August.
“Finding the right work-life balance is a tough line, and each person has to decide what’s important,” he said. “My garden and fruit orchard have been essential to my own mental health.”
Dr. Brubaker offers some of his best advice for younger physicians:
Decide how many hours you’re going to work and stick with it. I should have done better with spending time with my children. I do think younger people have learned that better than I did.
Make time to stay physically active and maintain brain health. This is especially important as you get older. Even if you’re busy, you can find a way to make time if it’s important to you.
Make volunteering a way of life. It stretches you and gives you more career satisfaction.
Be generous. Giving financially has always been part of my life and values. As physicians, we have that capability more than most others.
Finally, consider geriatrics. Your salary may be lower than your peers’, but geriatricians have one of the highest levels of physician satisfaction. You get lots of affirmation from older people.