Popular physician David Stegman’s ideas of retirement not conventional

December 29, 2002
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesDavid Stegman, M.D., of the Westside Medical Practice is retiring after 28 years of treating Santa Paulans, but his idea of retirement is not conventional.Stegman and his wife Linda, a Registered Nurse, will be traveling the world, offering medical care to many never before treated by a doctor.“A world of need needs to be reached and God has blessed me so I can give back generously,” he noted.A native of Marshalltown Iowa, Stegman, whose only family connection to medicine as a career was an uncle who was a surgeon, is the son of a dentist. “I liked what my uncle did rather than what Dad did. . .I’m a firm believer that you have to do what you want to do.”After he graduated from the University of Notre Dame he attended the Creighton University School of Medicine. His residency was at the Ventura County Medical Center before he joined the Army in 1970, stationed in Germany and Italy.Italy is where he met Linda, an Army nurse; the couple has two children, Tim and Andrea.The Stegmans moved to Santa Paula in 1974 and he joined the Westside Family Practice, joining college friend Richard Tushla, M.D., in 1986.“I’ve delivered more than a 1,000 babies, and right now the practice has about 2,500 patients,” said Stegman. “Babies I delivered are having babies.”Being a family physician is a “cradle to grave experience in many ways, and I’ve been privileged to serve. One on one with the patient is not just treating an immediate problem, but what is going on with their body, mind and spirit. Medicine is a serving profession,” that Stegman has further served over the years by volunteering at free health care clinics, including the Salvation Army.
Over the years Stegman has been involved in many community activities such as the Santa Paula Rotary Club - he was the 1994 Rotarian of the Year - and has been heavily involved in medical societies and associations, aside from professional duties such as SPMH Chief of Staff in 1982.Stegman spent “long nights working in the ER of Santa Paula Memorial Hospital, times when there would be a lot of injuries from accidents, some heavy difficult nights.”Now the Stegmans will become involved in Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian missionary that staffs hospitals throughout the world.“You can go short term,” which is what the Stegmans plan, traveling internationally to wherever they are needed. “We’re giving back; we’re both young and can still do that. . .we’ve been very blessed.”The Stegmans have a small avocado ranch outside city limits - “We love the small town atmosphere of Santa Paula,” he noted - that will not be neglected during their travels. In addition, he plans on doing “a lot of reading, there are a bunch of classic movies I want to see, I have to get up to speed on my computer skills. . .I like to fish, spend more time with Linda who is eager to travel.”RV is one mode of travel they are dreaming of, “seeing the Northwest, Southeast, Santa Fe, New Mexico area.”Stegman said that retirement, at least his version, will be like “six Saturday mornings a week, not have anything planned,” when off international medical duty. “There are more years behind me than ahead of me. You don’t really know what you have until it’s gone, and it’s time for some appreciating. I want to make an investment in the lives of others. I’m going to take it one day at a time. . .each day is an exciting adventure.”

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