Stan Nudelman’s mom gave him a choice of being a doctor, a teacher or an attorney.
He chose medicine, and along the way, he taught medical students with Samaritan and in California. He never became an attorney, but he has done some architecture work – for Samaritan and his own properties.
And he was a leader in an international physician group that was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
Nudelman, 84, retired from medicine earlier this month after nearly 60 years in practice. He spent the first 29 years of his career in California before coming to Corvallis in 1992, where he was the first physician and medical director hired by the newly formed Samaritan Health Services.
“Retiring is a mixed bag, but that’s how it should be,” he said. “I don’t think you should just walk away smiling. If you really enjoyed your career, there are things you’ll miss. There are things I miss already.”
Nudelman grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Soviet immigrants. He worked as a golf caddy in his teenage years and began earning scholarships for his education - first a bachelor’s degree at Miami University of Ohio, and a medical degree at Washington University School of Medicine.
Internships and residencies followed in the San Francisco Bay Area, including University of California – San Francisco and Stanford University. His first practice was in San Bruno, south of San Francisco.
“I did a combination of teaching at UCSF and private practice,” he said. “We came up here in 1992 because my wife Charla wanted to be closer to her mom, who lived here at the time. I do miss the Bay Area to some extent, but after 25 years, I was ready for a quieter pace.”
A self-proclaimed ‘frustrated architect,’ Nudelman worked with then-CEO Larry Mullins to develop the first Samaritan Internal Medicine clinic on the bottom floor of the Neville building, across the street from the hospital. The clinic has since moved to the Cascade View building down the hill.
When Samaritan developed its residency programs, Nudelman was happy to join the faculty of the internal medicine program.
“I was really excited to see our graduate medical education programs start, and it was a lot of fun to get back into teaching,” Nudelman said. “I love to see the enthusiasm of the young doctors in our residency program, and I love being able to transfer my experiences and love for medicine to them. I love being able to share with them what an exciting field they are joining.”
Possibly the biggest highlight of his career was his work in the 1980s with the National Physicians for Social Responsibility House of Delegates and the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War. He was one of two American physician members of that group, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
The group has worked to raise global awareness of the devastation caused by nuclear weapons. During the Cold War, the group worked to persuade American and Soviet leaders that the arms race was a threat to all life on the planet, which led to the Nobel Prize.
“I was very proud to be part of that group,” he said.
Looking back on his career, Nudelman said a lot has changed in medicine, but the basics are still the same.
“The basic thing is, it’s about the patients,” he said. “It’s about the relationships you build with them, and it’s a pleasure to take care of them. We just have more ways to treat them now than when I started.”
As for changes, he mentioned newer antibiotics and medications that have come into use, diagnostic modalities like MRI and new surgical techniques, among other developments. There are also more medical specialties than in the past.
When Nudelman started, internists would see patients in the Emergency Department and hospital, as well as in the clinic. Today, hospitals have emergency physicians and hospitalists, allowing primary care providers to focus more on their patients in the clinic.
“It’s been incredible,” he remarked. “In some ways, it’s been hard to keep up with everything, but that’s the job. When you like what you’re doing, you go along with the medical environment.”
Nudelman said he is retiring now because it’s time.
“I still love it, but I probably don’t have quite the energy I used to,” he said. “Also, my son just got accepted to medical school, so this is a good time to pass the baton.”
Nudelman will stay busy in retirement. He owns a few historical buildings around Corvallis, which he has worked to update. And he’s looking forward to spending more time with family and traveling.