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Medical Heritage Runs Deep for Local Pediatrician

Dr. Ilana Dickson, comes from several generations of medical professionals … four generations, to be exact.

Her great grandfather graduated from Indiana University with a medical degree; the first African American man to do so at Indiana University. Both her grandmother and grandfather were physicians who kept their practices late into their 80s. And her father and his sisters all earned advanced degrees in science-related fields.

Surprisingly, Dr. Dickson wasn’t always interested in medicine. In contrast to the strong science background on her father’s side, many family members on her mom’s side were professional musicians. But Dr. Dickson knew music wasn’t her calling either.

While completing her undergraduate degree at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington D.C., Dickson met a few medical students she could relate to.

“I used to think med students were super heroes, and I’m not a super hero so there’s no way I could do med school,” said Dr. Dickson. “The students at GW were like me; they didn’t have exclusively science backgrounds, but were still successful in medical school."

With that inspiration, she went on to apply to medical school and received her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine, the same school her physician grandparents graduated from, class of 1939. Dr. Dickson said pediatrics appealed to her because even the most non-compliant adult patients will most often do everything they can to help promote the health of their child.

Dr. Dickson, now practicing at Samaritan Pediatrics in Corvallis, and her husband, a cardiothoracic surgeon, enjoy raising their two children in Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley.

Dr. Dickson said she won’t push either of her children into medicine, but with a lineage like theirs, two future physicians won’t surprise anybody.

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Samaritan Health Services has five hospitals and more than 80 primary and specialty care clinics throughout the mid-Willamette Valley and central Oregon Coast, providing a wide variety of physician employment opportunities.

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