Work-life balance

Renaissance DOs: Meet 3 physicians who carve out time for nonmedical passions

Serious hobbies—such as racewalking—provide fun, stress relief, and insights that can be applied to the practice of medicine, these DOs say.


After inheriting a Colt revolver from a patient, William Baker, DO, learned about cowboy action shooting, a Wild West-inspired marksmanship event that combines speed, accuracy and historic costumes. Dr. Baker, a family physician in Las Cruces, New Mexico, found a nearby cowboy action shooting club and began taking part in competitions. Last year, he was named the classic cowboy shootist of the year at the Winter Range National Championship.

DOs such as Dr. Baker who have serious hobbies outside of medicine say their passions not only help them recharge, but also bring new insights to their practice of medicine. For example, Dr. Baker, who’s also a team physician, has gained understanding of the challenges his student athletes face.

Wild Wild West

A typical cowboy action shooting course requires participants to shoot 24 rounds—10 rifle shots, 10 pistol shots, and four shotgun shots—while moving among several targets. Participants receive a time penalty if they miss or shoot out of sequence; this video illustrates how the event works. World-championship-level shooters can complete a course in 12 to 14 seconds; Dr. Baker estimates the same course would take him 25-28 seconds to complete.

William Baker, DO, competing in the Castle Gate Robbery cowboy action shooting event in Price, Utah. Dr. Baker finished first in the classic cowboy category.

Dr. Baker, who also serves as team physician and medical director for the New Mexico State University athletic department, says his hobby has given him firsthand knowledge of the challenges of athletic competition. “Shooting is much like any other competitive sport—you have to visualize how you’re going to do it and have your brain in the game,” he says. “Cowboy action shooting is just a stress reliever for me, but it does give me more insight into the student athletes I work with.”

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Going the distance

Stephanie Casey, DO, has been passionate about racewalking since she took up the sport in elementary school. Dr. Casey, who practices family medicine in Reedsport, Oregon, is currently training to compete in the trials for the 2016 Olympic Games. To make the cut, she’ll need to walk a course about as long as a half-marathon—20 kilometers—in one hour and 48 minutes.

Dr. Casey previously competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials. She took a break from competitive racewalking after the 2012 trials, but she’s come back to it in a big way.

“There’s totally a connection between mind, body and spirit,” she says. “I realized I was losing a lot by not being active and not having a passion outside of medicine, so I started racewalking again.”

Dr. Casey’s racewalking pursuits have also helped her connect with patients who are working to incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. “Racewalking makes me more passionate about convincing people to be active and set goals for themselves,” she says.

Stephanie Casey, DO, competing in the 2012 Olympic Trials for racewalking. She finished eighth with a time of one hour, 47 minutes.

Medicine and drama

Michael J. Sampson, DO, got his break in the acting world by serving as a ringside physician for World Wrestling Entertainment. He worked with the WWE for five years, treating wrestlers’ real and scripted injuries, and appeared on TV programs such as “WWE Raw,” “WWE SmackDown,” and reality show “WWE Total Divas.”

These days, Dr. Sampson, the interim assistant dean of clinical integration at the Georgia Campus—Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, occasionally appears as a TV show extra, most recently as a physician in the basketball-focused comedy “Survivors’ Remorse.”

Acting draws on the skills he’s already developed as a DO, Dr. Sampson notes. “As a doctor, you could be having the worst day in the world—your cat died, your car got stolen, whatever,” he says. “But when you see a patient, you have to put aside what’s going on in your life and focus on being the best osteopathic physician you can be.”


  1. Michael J. Sampson, DO FAOASM

    Clarifiction-The reality show was WWE TOTAL DIVAS. Raw and Smackdown were the sports entertainment shows.

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